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?
Characters/Pairing: Spike/Buffy, Connor, Angel, Nina
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 Aisalynn for being a wonderful 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.
ETA: 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.
Angel sat in his office, staring at the phone and willing it to ring. Connor had disappeared without any word of his whereabouts a few days ago. Angel worked hard to not hover or smother his son, but he knew Connor hadn’t been back to his apartment since he’d broken up with Gwen. Connor hadn’t told anyone where he was going, he’d just vanished. He wasn’t answering his cell phone or returning any of Angel’s messages. There’d been no word of Connor getting into a fight according to Angel’s demon contacts and with his newfound fame anything that happened to his son would make waves. Waves the size of tsunamis. Connor was lying low. Angel wasn’t even sure Connor was still in LA.
“No news yet?” Nina leaned against the office doorway, her face doing little to mask her concern for both Connor and Angel.
Angel shook his head, his grave expression never shifting.
“He’ll be fine. Connor can take care of himself. He’s tough.” Nina smiled. “Just like his dad.”
Angel looked away and sighed heavily. “Yeah,” he answered softly.
“Maybe it’d be a good idea to go out. I’ve been researching that case about the random acts of demonic cult activity downtown.” Nina walked to the desk, placing a handful of papers in front of Angel. “Turns out – not so random.” She pointed to the location in the center of the map. “I think we should check it out. So far no one’s been hurt, but that kind of mojo can’t be good news.”
Angel pushed the papers away. “Have Kate look into it. If there’s something there, she’ll know what to do. Right now it doesn’t seem like much to go on.” Angel stood and walked towards the microwave in the corner of the office. He pushed start and watched the mug full of blood slowly spin inside.
Disappointed, Nina picked up the papers and walked towards the door. “Yeah, okay. I’ll let her know. Maybe go with her myself.” She paused in the doorway. “I’ll call if we find anything.”
“Yeah, great. Do that,” Angel said absently with his back to the door.
The microwave dinged and Angel pulled out the mug, sipping it as he walked back towards his desk. He resumed staring at the phone, unable to think about anything but Connor. Angel knew how painful break-ups could be and he understood the need to get some distance, maybe gain some perspective. What worried him was that apparently gaining perspective for Connor meant leaving town.
His mug of blood forgotten, Angel continued to stare at the phone as he thought about all the times in the past few months that Connor had come to him for advice about his relationship with Gwen. Angel hadn’t been able to help much. He had over 150 years of experience with Darla, but no experience gained there resembled a healthy relationship.
And Buffy, well, half of the time he was in Sunnydale he spent trying to stay away from Buffy, the other half trying to drive her insane and eventually kill her. Plus the whole open communication thing was never their strong suit. There were so many horrible things he was afraid she’d find out about him. That the light in her eyes when she saw him, that light would fade away till it was replaced with disgust. Honesty was always a struggle for them. And trust. Love came easily. But the trust…
Then there was Cordy. Who he trusted so easily. Completely. She’d seen him at his darkest hours and still stood by his side. But they’d never really been together. Not really. Just when things were starting to build towards something more--well, towards something--she was taken away and he’d never really gotten her back. They’d missed their moment and now she was gone. Their first kiss when both of them knew how they felt about each other was their last. A goodbye kiss.
Angel didn’t know what to tell Connor. He didn’t have any sage advice for how to make things work with Gwen. He’d tried being supportive and saying the right things, but he knew he was falling short. That Connor was frustrated with his inability to help. Angel was used to failing his son, just like he’d been used to failing his father. But every time he tried so hard to do the right thing. Every time.
Lost in thought, the phone rang three times before the sound penetrated Angel’s brood. His hand shot forward to pick up the phone. “Hello?”
“Dad? Hey Dad, it’s me.” Connor’s voice came through a bit fuzzily over the bad connection. Angel slumped back into his chair as the tension drained from his body, silent. He smiled as he listened to the sound of Connor’s voice. “Just wanted to let you know I’m on my way back. And I’m bringing someone with me. You might remember him – has a thing for leather, cusses every other word and can’t go five minutes without a cigarette.”
Angel heard a muffled, “Who doesn’t have a thing for leather, no I don’t and yes I can.” He rolled his eyes. “That’s fine, Connor. Anything to have you home.”
“Right. I’ll be back soon.” Connor paused. “Sorry I left like that.”
“It’s okay. I knew you’d be fine.” Angel strained to act reassuring. “See you when you get home.”
As the line went dead, Angel slowly lowered the phone and looked at it. He smiled as he hung up. Glancing at the mug still full of blood that had now cooled over, he picked it up and downed it quickly. Feeling ravenous, he stood and walked towards the miniature fridge underneath the microwave, bending down to get another bag of blood to heat up. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d eaten. He’d only made the mug of blood earlier so Nina wouldn’t fuss at him like she’d been doing the past few days. He slit open the bag and poured it into the mug, placing it inside the microwave and pushing start. Instead of staring aimlessly at the circling mug, his eyes lost focus as he imagined Connor walking through the door.
“And here I was worried you’d be too busy to see little old me.” The familiar feminine voice had an edge to it. Angel’s shoulders tensed.
“Buffy.” Angel turned to find her standing right where Nina had been less than an hour ago. Only Buffy didn’t lean against the door jam. She stood straight and tall with her arms crossed over her chest. Strange how she could stand so tall when she was so tiny. Her hair fell past her shoulders, longer than he’d remembered it.
“Angel.” Buffy responded automatically, her mouth tight.
Angel’s eyes narrowed as he stared at Buffy, reading the tension in her face and stance. She looked pissed. Not enraged. More like a cold anger. Icy. Angry Buffy was never easy to deal with. The microwave dinged behind him and he pushed the cancel button to quiet it. “So what is it? Why are –“
“Where is he?” Buffy’s voice cracked as she interrupted him.
Angel jutted his chin forward obstinately. “Where’s who?”
“Spike.” Buffy bit out the words. “Where is Spike?”
Angel shook his head, disbelieving. “You came halfway around the world to ask me where Spike is?” He raised his hands defensively, annoyed at her accusing tone. “I’m not Spike’s keeper. And I couldn’t tell you where he is because for one, I don’t care and for two, I don’t care.”
“So he’s alive?” She asked in a small voice, the anger leaking away.
“Yeah, as alive as any other vampire.” His mouth grimaced. “Thanks for asking, by the way. I’m fine.”
Buffy’s eyes closed briefly before opening to glare at Angel. “You knew he was back and you didn’t tell me. What? Is it your mission in life to keep me in the dark? To make decisions for me without actually giving me the right to choose? I’m not a teenager anymore. You don’t get to just…just…” Buffy searched for the words frustratedly, stabbing her index finger at Angel each time she hesitated. “Ugh!”
Angel clenched his jaw. “Let me repeat myself just so we’re clear. I. Am. Not. Spike’s. Keeper. I don’t pass notes for him during study hall. I don’t send out ‘Welcome Back’ party invites to all his friends. I have more important things to worry about than Spike like oh say, stopping the world from ending. Oh yeah, and eradicating evil.” Angel punched the air with his fists. “So sorry if my priorities inconvenienced you. Wait, no. I’m not sorry. ‘Cause the only person who needed to tell you anything was Spike. Go be angry at him.”
Buffy’s shoulders slumped as she dropped her arms to her side. “Sorry. I just…” She rubbed her temples, exhaustion leaking into her voice. “I’m just so tired. I can’t even tell who’s lying to me anymore.”
Angel’s face softened and he walked forward to touch Buffy by the shoulder, his hand paused in midair as the front door banged open in the lobby.
“Dad! We’re back!” Connor’s voice carried loud and clear to the office. Buffy raised her head to look confusedly at Angel. “Dad? You here?”
Angel cleared his throat and walked past Buffy to stand in the doorway of the office. “In here, Connor.”
Buffy’s eyes widened. She mouthed ‘dad?’ and stared at Angel, waiting for him to explain. He turned to look back at her and shrugged. “It’s a long story. But yeah, he’s my son.” Angel couldn’t help but smile proudly as he responded.
Buffy shook her head dazedly, walking towards Angel with her mouth open in shock. “How is that even…”
Her voice trailed off as she caught sight of bleached blond hair and a black leather coat over Angel’s shoulder as he stood in the doorway with his back to the lobby. Her already wide eyes strained even further. Her breath caught in her throat, only to force its way through shallow pants. Her hands felt numb, hanging listlessly at her side while her feet were rooted to the ground.
Angel resisted the urge to greet Connor, unable to look away from Buffy’s face as she stared past him. He finally glanced behind him to see Spike handing Connor a broadsword to put in the weapons cabinet. Connor and Spike stood bantering and swapping insults until Spike quieted suddenly, his back tensing visibly beneath his jacket. He turned to stare at Angel standing in the doorway, his head tilted to the side. “Buffy?” He whispered beneath his breath as he shook his head.
“Who’s Buffy? Isn’t that the girl who you…oh.” Connor quieted as he caught sight of the blond woman standing behind his father.
Buffy’s feet moved forward sluggishly and Angel moved aside to let her pass. She barely noticed him as she walked slowly towards Spike. She hadn’t thought it would be this easy to find him. She’d expected hours of dragging the truth out of Angel and then more time spent going to Spike. Her eyes moved over him from head to foot, taking in every detail of his being while avoiding his eyes. Her head bowed down to stare at his chest when she finally stood in front of him.
Was he real? She reached forward to grab his right hand, holding it between her own as she stroked his fingers with her thumbs. His hand. The last time she’d touched him it was here. She remembered the flames burning them both. She felt like the sensation was embedded underneath his cool skin, all she had to do was look for it and she’d feel it again. She held his hand up to her chest and began to slowly intertwine their fingers, her left to his right, making a fist which she clutched to her heart.
She looked up finally to gaze into Spike’s face, seeing him standing frozen and staring at her intensely, waiting to see what she’d do next. His eyes were transfixed and tinged with wonder. She’d forgotten how he could make her feel just by looking at her. Warm. Admired. Loved. Her lips started to curl into a smile only to fall as her chest tightened unbearably and she gasped out a breath. She squeezed her eyes shut and bowed her head again, continuing to hold his hand against her as moisture seeped out from under her eyelids to fall down her cheeks. She felt his other hand brush against her cheek, wiping away the dampness. She shuddered at his touch.
She shook her head, unable to respond or let go. He stroked her cheek and her hair, brushing away the tears as they fell. Her head tilted up into his touch but her eyes remained closed. He closed his eyes to match her and leaned forward till their foreheads touched, letting out a sigh that matched her own. He breathed her in, the scent of her, the warmth of her breath, the salt of her tears. He breathed shallowly to match her own rhythm, wishing his heart beat so that it too could move in sync with her motions.
Each time a soft whimper escaped her throat, his dead heart clenched. He continued to stroke her hair, murmuring endearments and crooning to her. Her tears eventually slowed as her breathing evened out. She sighed and his body followed the rise and fall of her chest. She pushed up with her forehead and pulled back, opening her eyes to look at Spike as he raised his head to gaze back at her.
She smiled painfully. “Hi."