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
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 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.
She’d fallen into a deep sleep, exhausted after hours of them connecting. No other word for it. They’d fucked each other blind plenty of times before tonight. They’d chastely lain down together speaking volumes without words. They’d never done both at the same time. He hadn’t known they could. Hadn’t known anyone could.
Vampires could go a long time without sleep and still function. It just took the right kind of incentive to keep one awake during the daylight hours. And incentive for the past dozen hours or so was most definitely not in short supply. Even after Buffy had fallen asleep, Spike couldn’t stand the thought of succumbing to his fatigue and somehow missing this. Not appreciating the feeling, the fullness inside.
Buffy sighed and turned back towards Spike, bumping her head into his chin before nuzzling into his shoulder. Spike laid his left hand on her hip, stroking upwards till he reached the silky skin of her neck and behind her ear. Tracing forwards with his index finger, he ran his finger across her cheekbone and down to her lips, lightly touching the planes of her face as if he was blind and attempting to memorize her.
He noted the softness of her cheeks and the even finer softness of the skin beneath her eyes, gentling his touch as he traced the silken skin on the tops of her eyelids. He pushed a fallen lock of blonde hair away from her face and held it between his fingers, weighing its texture and length as he eyed the shiny blond color.
“You jealous?” Buffy murmured with her eyes closed.
“Hmm?” Spike grunted before looking down at Buffy’s smiling face. “What’s that, pet?”
“You jealous I’ve got a better dye job?” Buffy opened her eyes to grin at him, reaching up to play with his mussed bedhead curls. “I could give you the name of my stylist.” She giggled. “We could go in together. Be annoyingly cute and couple-y.” She reached for his hand, turning to lie on her back and hold it close to her face as she examined his bare fingernails. “We could even get your nails done. Black.” She nipped playfully at his fingers, looking at him with a mischievous glint in her eyes.
Spike grinned. “Think I’ll pass on the day at the spa. Now if you wanted me to help you go lingerie shopping, I’d be all for getting annoyingly couple-y in public. Probably shock a few prudes but they just might learn a thing or two.” He pulled back his hand to rest over his heart. “’m all about the greater good now or haven’t you heard?”
“I think I remember reading that somewhere.” Buffy’s smile faded into a happy sigh as she closed her eyes again. “This is nice. I don’t wanna move. Can we just stay here, not moving, just like this…”
“No reason not to, love.” A knock sounded on the door. “Hold that thought.” Spike sat up and reached down for his pair of jeans at the foot of the bed.
Buffy touched his shoulder. “Wait, let me jump in the shower first.” She tossed the covers back and walked nude to the adjoining bathroom, winking over her shoulder at Spike as he stared. Another knock on the door had Buffy peeking her head out of the bathroom with her eyebrows raised. “You gonna get that?”
Spike shook himself, standing and pulling his jeans up without buttoning them. “Yeah, got it.” The sound of water falling prompted Spike to hurry towards the door with an annoyed scowl on his face.
His face fell into one of surprise as he found Connor waiting for him in the hallway. He looked at Connor suspiciously. “How’d you find us?” He leaned in slightly to stare at Connor more closely. “You tracked us here from the hotel? Knew you were good at it, but that’s a tad freaky. We drove over here, took the interstate. Even bloodhounds can’t follow a scent once it gets a fast ride.”
Connor reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone, raising his eyebrow. “It’s called a phone. Found out what hotel your friend was staying at. Say it with me now – technology is your friend.”
Spike crossed his arms over his chest. “Right, so why are you here? Notice how I keep having to ask you that. It’s ‘cause you keep showing up when I’m otherwise involved. Got things I’d rather be doing to a girl I’d rather be doing. Catch my drift?”
Connor grimaced. “Unfortunately, I can smell your drift, too. I’m not here to interrupt your…whatever. Not my business. Dad sent me.”
“Oh ho! So Angel sent the heir apparent to break up the party. Well you can toddle on home and tell the broodmaster to sod off.”
“Hey, I’m not here for the whole jealous, competitive vampire show. This is business. Dad needs you and Buffy. Some kind of new development with the demonic cults Nina and Kate were looking into.”
“What’s that got to do with Buffy?”
Connor shook his head. “Dunno. Dad called and told me to come get you guys on the way back to the hotel. I missed the action, too. Still playing catch-up here but the faster you get dressed –” Connor looked pointedly at Spike’s bare chest “ – the faster I get to have fun making evil things go crunch.” Connor glanced down at his wristwatch. “You coming?”
Spike shrugged, turning to face the bathroom door with an amused smirk. He raised his voice to ask: “Honey, wanna go kill things?”
“Sure! I just need to get dressed and do my hair.” The cheerfulness in Buffy’s voice carried over the sound of the water falling in the shower.
Spike squinted, reassessing his plans as he looked back at Connor. “Maybe you should meet us there. Don’t imagine she’s gonna be ready anytime soon. The hair alone…”
Connor raised both eyebrows, backing away. “Yeah, meet you there.” Connor turned to leave and paused, looking back at Spike over his shoulder. “You might wanna…” He nodded his head towards the shower.
Connor tapped his nose.
Spike chuckled evilly. “Ha, talk about rubbing Daddy Dearest’s face in it. Serve him right. Not like he didn’t do that to me a million times – er, I mean your dad’s a real stand-up guy, Junior. Got a lot of great qualities like…like…” Spike’s tongue flapped in his mouth as he searched for words. “…excellent penmanship. And a not completely hopeless taste in literature. Not a bad hand at drawing though he certainly is pompous about it.” Spike raised his hands placatingly. “Not that he’s pompous all the time. Only most of the time. There’s some quality non-pomp somewhere in there. Never been around to see it myself, but so I’ve heard.”
Connor smiled mockingly. “Thanks. I get it. Dad is good, therefore I’m good. My self-esteem is now secure.” He started walking down the hall, looking over his shoulder to retort, “And seriously. Take a shower.” He shook his head, mumbling to himself, “Stupid enhanced sense of smell – worst superpower ever.”
Spike watched Connor disappear around the corner before closing the door and turning towards the bathroom, listening to the noises from the shower. He shrugged, shucking off his pants and reaching for the bathroom door. “Can’t blame me if we’re late now, can he? Just following his advice. One shower – coming up.”
Buffy jumped onto the landing of the hotel doorway and turned to grin at Spike. “Beat you!”
Spike reached past her to pull open the door and slide inside first. “Nope. Doesn’t count till you’re inside. Cheaters never prosper, Slayer.”
Buffy scoffed as she walked inside after him. “You should know, Mr. I-cheat-at-kitten-poker. And nobody said it was whoever got inside first. That’s winning by technicality or cheating or something.” She waved her finger at him. “You so did not win. I want a rematch.” She fisted her hands into her hips. “No, I demand a rematch. I have my Slayer honor to uphold. Plus I’m undefeated in the ‘me versus you’ category. It’d be like a sign of the apocalypse – you beating me. Can’t let it happen, Spike. It’s my job to save the world. Face it, you’re going down and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
“Never had a problem with you winning, love, and you know I don’t have a problem with going down.” He grinned. “But you lost. Gotta learn to accept it and move on.” Spike patted her on the shoulder.
Angel cleared his throat and the pair turned to notice the group of people dispersed throughout the lobby. He glowered. “You done?”
Buffy raised a hand to wave as she stepped down towards everyone. “Hey. So what’s the what?” She noticed a girl with brown hair tied to a chair next to the large red circular couch where a redheaded girl was lying unconscious on the cushions. “Okay, wild guess here, but looks like you didn’t call us over to lecture on the dangers of forgetting the safe word during bondage fun.”
The brown-haired girl moaned, her head lolling forward. A blonde woman with blue eyes and a no-nonsense attitude walked up and smacked her on the shoulder. “Wake up, sunshine. You’re going to answer my questions. Doesn’t matter how long it takes. You hear me?”
Buffy looked confusedly at Spike who was staring at the girl tied up in the chair. She turned towards Angel with eyebrows raised. “What’s going on? And who are all these people?”
Angel stared at Spike for a few moments before nodding towards the blond attempting to start an interrogation. “This is Kate. She’s an ex-cop and a friend.” His head jerked towards Connor who was sitting on the desk counter. “You’ve met Connor already. Sort of.” Angel gestured towards another blond woman who sat down on the couch and started sponging a wet towel on the unconscious girl’s forehead. “And this is Nina. As for the rest, we’re working on it.”
Buffy squinted. “Working on it?”
Nina looked up to answer. “Kate and I were following a lead. Some weird goings-on downtown. Rumors about a cult and something to do with vampires. We figured out there was a pattern to where the incidents were happening. Staked it out and –”
“Walked into a trap.” Kate interrupted. “Except the trap wasn’t set for us. It was for her.” She nodded at the unconscious redhead. She turned back to the brunette. “And this one is responsible for the set-up. She’s just not feeling very talkative right now.” Kate gripped the girl’s chin and lifted her head up. “You really don’t want to try my patience. Now I’ll ask one more time – what’s your name?”
The girl looked blearily up at Kate and sneered.
“Her name’s Christy.” Spike stepped forward to stand in front of the brunette who looked at him in surprise. “And last time I checked, the only sort of trouble she was looking for was a good time. Things change, huh pet?”
Christy blinked in surprise. “Spike? You know these people?” She started to fight her restraints. “Tell them to let me go. They’re crazy. They attacked me and tied me up for no reason.” She looked worriedly at the redhead lying on the couch who was moaning softly and starting to stir. “And keep that one away from me. She’s dangerous, Spike. She’s a killer.”
Buffy held her hands up in the air. “Okay – time out! The more people keep talking, the more confusing it gets in here.” She looked directly at Kate. “What’d you mean that you walked into a trap?”
Kate nodded at the redhead who Nina was helping to sit up. “I mean that Christy here pretended like she was being attacked by a gang of vampires in order to lure her – ” Kate pointed at the redhead – “into a fight to help save her. But Christy didn’t need saving. Apparently she’s best buddies with the vampires that were ‘attacking’ her. It was all a show so they could shoot half a dozen tranq darts into…”
“Rachel,” the redhead supplied in a rough voice. She looked around the room woozily. “Where am I?”
“It’s okay,” Nina reassured. “We’re friends.”
Rachel looked around the room, her shoulders stiffening as she glared at Spike and Angel. “Friends? I don’t make friends with vampires.” She reached behind her, looking for something in her back pocket only to start searching around the room with desperate eyes.
Connor hopped off the counter to stand slightly in front of Angel. “You don’t like vampires. I get that. But these two are okay. So stop looking for the stake you dropped and sit back. ‘Cause even if you tried, we’d take you down.”
Buffy looked at Rachel in sudden understanding. “You’re a Slayer.”
Angel nodded. “She’s a Slayer, Buffy. Who’s apparently the new hot commodity in the demon world. Whoever Christy’s been working with has been staging these traps all over the city. The vampires weren’t going for the kill and Christy wasn’t the only human helping them. Almost half a dozen men armed with tranq guns. Kate fired a few warning shots into the air while I grabbed Rachel. They ran. It’s probably the first time things didn’t go according to plan.”
“They all got away,” Kate added. “Except this one. I introduced her to my right hook. And if she doesn’t start talking about her friends, I think they might need to get reacquainted.” Kate flexed her fist.
“You don’t understand. That thing is a killer.” Christy spat in Rachel’s direction. “Spike, don’t turn your back on her. She’s an animal. She goes out at night hunting vampires. She’s a murderer. A monster.”
Buffy blinked. “Okay, I’m still not used to the whole part where the world acts insane-o.” Buffy walked over to Christy. “Vampires are bad. Evil. They kill people. Drink their blood. You get that that’s bad, right? The whole dying part?”
Christy shook her head, her eyes wild. “That’s just lies. Lies the Slayers have been spreading for generations. They’re misunderstood. Vampires have been persecuted and forced into hiding for so long. The Slayers are trying to kill off their entire race. If you actually knew what they were like –”
“Oh, I know what they’re like. I’ve watched vampires kill. Over and over again.” Buffy rolled her eyes. “You really don’t get it, do you? All vampires are into is the kill, the hunt. They want you dead and the sooner the better.”
“Right. That’s why you’re hanging out with Spike? Buffy, was it?” Christy laughed and looked at Spike. “This her? Your penpal?” She looked back at Buffy mockingly. “Yeah, I can see how all vampires are so bad. So what’s your plan? You gonna snuggle him to death?”
Buffy clenched her jaw. “Spike’s different. He has a soul. So does Angel. Every other vampire out there, better off dust. Slayers are the only ones protecting you. Slayers are good.”
“The only good Slayer is a dead Slayer,” Christy sneered.
Spike walked forward and swiftly untied Christy, waving away Buffy’s protest. Christy looked up at him gratefully before smirking at Buffy. She didn’t notice his hand swoop down to grab her by the neck and she gasped in surprise as he lifted her up and tossed her against the lobby’s counter. Tightening his stranglehold, he looked into Christy’s terrified eyes and bared his teeth. “You’re gonna talk, pet. Tell us everything you know about your friends. Who, what, where – everything.” His hand tightened on her neck reflexively as Christy tried to swallow. “Won’t stand for any lip. Say one word out of turn against Slayers, you’ll regret it. Understand?”
“Right then.” Spike stepped back, letting Christy fall down to the floor. "From the top.”