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
Chapter Rating: R for Violence and Adult Situations
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.
A gentle hand touched her shoulder and she looked up to find a girl with long brown hair and clear blue eyes looking at her with concern. Buffy blinked dazedly.
“Are you okay?” the girl asked. Buffy shook her head in response.
The girl pointed at Buffy to stay put and walked towards the bar, slipping behind it only to return a second later carrying a clear plastic cup. “Here – drink this,” she said, handing the cup to Buffy.
Buffy looked at the clear liquid skeptically. The girl smiled. “It’s only water. You looked like you were going to be sick.” The girl rubbed Buffy’s shoulder comfortingly. “You gotta stay hydrated when you go out to places like this.” She frowned when Buffy continued to hesitate. “Did somebody slip you something earlier? Is that why you’re not feeling okay?”
A chorus of shrieks made the girl turn towards the stage for a moment, only to look immediately back at Buffy, frowning. “Maybe you should go home. You don’t seem like you belong here, ya know?” The girl smiled reassuringly, rubbing Buffy’s shoulder and lifting the cup up to Buffy’s mouth. “Drink – it’ll make you feel better. Help settle your stomach.”
Buffy swallowed a few sips of water hesitantly then gulped down the rest. She sighed as she leaned her head up against the pillar behind her.
The girl smiled. “Feeling better?” She stood up and held out a hand to help Buffy stand, gripping firmly and pulling her upright. “You should go home. You don’t want to see what happens here.” The girl looked solemn for a moment before turning to walk back behind the bar, prompting Buffy to reach out to touch her shoulder.
Buffy swallowed tightly, shaking off her lightheadedness. “Thank you,” she uttered hoarsely.
“No problem.” The girl smiled before walking back towards the bar at the far wall.
Buffy watched the girl walk away, a vulnerable expression on her face. She turned towards the stage and straightened her shoulders, lifting her chin and walking determinedly back towards the edge of the shrieking crowd. Announcer guy was still drawing out the moment, talking about blood and rewards. Figures. Ryan Seacrest always did know how to bleed a moment dry for all it was worth before getting to the main event. She half expected him to say they’d be right back after this commercial by Ford.
“You know the drill, how we play the game. Only one gets to drink. Oh yeah, drink deep from this sacred chalice. It’s not a right.” Draco’s voice rumbled menacingly, lingering on each vowel sound and drawing it out like a Baptist preacher gone metal-punk. “Oh no, it’s a privilege. You’ve gotta earn it, kids. So who earned it tonight? Who’s the one –” a drumroll began to sound as Draco pointed his right index finger into the air “– who gets a taste of the finest blood this side of hell. Who’ll taste the blood…” Draco paused dramatically before swinging his arm down to point to his right offstage. “…of a Slayer!”
A teenage girl dressed in ragged clothes with long, knotted black hair was dragged on to the stage. She stumbled as the vampires pulled her forward, tripping over the heavy chains on her ankles as they grabbed her from under her chained arms. She closed her eyes against the blinding spotlight shining down on her, panting. Her head hung limply, swaying from side to side as they propped her up next to Draco.
A dozen vampires began to flank the stage in a perfectly coordinated oval like attendants at a wedding ceremony, six to Draco’s left and six to the chained Slayer’s right. Draco grinned and grabbed the Slayer by her left elbow, pulling her up against his side as he raised the microphone to his lips. “Who will it be? Who’ll get to taste – ” He chuckled evilly and leaned over to lick the Slayer’s bruised cheek. “– this prime, oh so fine morsel?” He rumbled a growl into the microphone and the crowd swayed in anticipation.
Buffy glared. She looked desperately behind her at the hallway leading to the front door and then back at the crowd of humans draped over vampires in gameface and finally at the dozen vampires on stage surrounding Draco and the Slayer. She had to end this. She dismissed the stake in her back pocket. It wasn’t going to be enough for this type of crowd control. She frantically searched around the room and glanced over at the girl standing alone behind the bar. Yes. There.
She strode quickly forward and leaped over the bar, grabbing bottles of liquor and lining them up on the counter.
“Hey!” the girl exclaimed, reaching to grab Buffy’s arm. “You can’t just…” Her voice trailed off as Buffy turned to glare at her.
Buffy continued to line up full bottles of vodka, gin and whiskey on the bartop. Without pausing, she spoke in a dark tone, “Get out of here. Get out now. You hear me? You don’t want to be here for this.”
The girl shook her head and backed away, running to the back area of the club reserved for employees. Buffy didn’t turn to watch, instead picking up a lighter and slipping it into her pocket before jumping onto the bar to face the stage twenty feet away. She took a deep breath and picked up a bottle from the dozens sitting at her feet, listening to Draco’s obnoxious growl as he waited to announce the winner.
Winner, she sneered. Win this, suckheads.
“…and the winner is…” Draco paused again to grin. “…the vicious, the insatiable, the unstoppable – argh!” Draco yelped as a bottle of vodka cracked him upside the head, shattering and splashing alcohol on the vampires standing next to him.
The Slayer standing next to him whimpered as the glass flew past her head to the floor, desperately pushing herself out of Draco’s grasp to land sprawled at the back of the stage. The vampires on stage turned to see where the bottle came from but failed to react before more bottles were hurled with perfect precision at each vampire from Buffy’s stance on the bar. The crowd watched in shock, unmoved by the spectacle of violence, conditioned to wait and observe.
Buffy stopped when she had only one bottle left, opening it to stuff a rag inside the bottle with the tail end hanging out. Glaring at the crowd, she reached behind her to pull out her stake, using the sharp edge to rip open her palm before holding it up towards the crowd. “You want blood. You’re so thirsty for it,” Buffy yelled furiously. “Come get mine. You want Slayer’s blood – come and get it right from the source. The Slayer.”
Draco growled as his eyes lit in recognition, the ridges on his forehead rippling as his face twisted into snarl. “Buffy Summers…I’m gonna kill you.”
“You first,” Buffy snapped, reaching down to grab the last bottle while she grabbed the lighter out of her pocket. Lighting the damp rag, she hurled it at Draco, her eyes glinting in satisfaction as it hit him in the chest, the flames from the rag spreading immediately across his entire body. Draco screamed, his body lighting up before combusting into a pile of dust. The dozen vampires on either side of him jumped back to avoid the fire.
The vampires on stage stared in shock at the pile of Draco’s dust, then snarled at Buffy but made no move to act uncertain without their charismatic leader issuing orders.
“Come on! You just gonna take that,” Buffy sneered, goading them to attack her. The vampires in the crowd looked at each other in confusion, hesitating. “You’re pathetic. Has it really gotten this easy for you? You forgot how to hunt? How to feed without it being handed to you?”
She slashed the stake into her palm again, grimacing as she whipped her hand in the direction of the crowd and let the blood splatter freely. The vampires growled as drops hit their faces, the powerful scent of Slayer’s blood stroking their hunger, while the humans shrieked in disgust and began to back away towards the stage. Buffy smiled grimly. So much for humans loving blood. Posers.
A bulky male vampire on the stage grabbed the fallen microphone resting on top of Draco’s ashes, picking it up to growl ,“Kill her” before jumping down into the middle of the crowd and pushing his way towards the bar.
The vampires began to move forward en masse, leaving the humans behind in the wake of their blood lust. Buffy backed away down the bar in the direction of the entrance hallway, watching the vampires prowl forward, growling loudly through their fangs.
Buffy paused as she reached the end of the bar, flinching as something pinched her in the neck. She reached up and pulled out a dart, glancing across the room at a man in standard Goth gear holding a tranquilizer gun. She staggered slightly as the drugs entered her bloodstream, making her fight to keep her balance. Oh god, she thought dizzily. Time to move.
Shaking her head desperately, Buffy leapt off the bar and started running towards the entrance hallway, gasping as darts pierced her in the back. She brushed an arm behind her, attempting to pull out the darts within reach and felt the brush of cold hands wrenching the back of her shirt. Faster, faster, faster, she chanted.
Her heart raced as she forced her legs to fly across the floor, straining forward with each desperate stride. Cold hands grabbed at her shirt, her arms, her pants, ripping off pieces of fabric as she refused to let them slow her momentum. As she reached the darkened hallway, she staggered against the wall, bouncing off it as her knees shook from the drugs pumping through her system. The hallway floor tilted in front of her like a shifting tunnel at a carnival but she kept running, forcing one foot in front of the other.
So close, so close, keep running, almost…
She pushed forward with the last ounce of her Slayer strength as she barreled into the closed door, smashing through it to land on her knees. A burly vampire tackled her from behind, rolling her to the side and lifting her up by the neck as he slid his fangs into her shoulder. She gasped in pain only to scream as the vampire was wrenched away violently and leather clad arms picked her up roughly to carry her away from the doorway.
“Now! She’s clear!” Spike yelled, pushing her against the brick wall to the far left of the alleyway.
Buffy watched dazedly, her vision going in and out of focus, as Gunn lit up a flamethrower and doused the vampires that came running out of the club’s entrance.
“Oh, hell yeah!” Gunn grinned viciously as he brandished the flamethrower from side to side against the hordes of vamps that were bottlenecked between the narrow entrance door and the wall of fire that quickly turned into disintegrating bodies of dust. He stepped forward through the falling ashes and pressed down hard on the fuel, letting out great bursts of flames to reach the vamps that were attempting to retreat back inside the club.
The flamethrower began to wane in its intensity and eventually puttered out. Gunn watched the dozen or so remaining vampires running back inside the club as he lowered the torch.
Angel and Connor came up to stand beside him. “Time for us to do the clean-up,” Angel said grimly, looking briefly over at Buffy held in Spike’s arms.
Connor grinned, pulling out a stake and twirling it roughly. “Let’s finish this.”
Gunn set down the torch and jerked his head at his crew. “Move out! If it’s undead, stake it.” He glanced awkwardly at Angel. “Er, except Angel. Let’s go!”
Buffy watched over Spike’s shoulder, her entire body going numb as she succumbed to the drugs in her bloodstream. Spike held her cradled in his arms, half-kneeling as he leaned against the wall with her sitting on his bent legs. He applied pressure to her shoulder, alternating between growls as he pulled darts from her back and a comforting rumble when she shivered.
“Spike?” Buffy’s voice was weak. “Did it work?”
“Yeah, love,” Spike reassured her, voice tight. “It worked.”
She leaned forward to rest her forehead against his shoulder, sighing. “I feel dizzy.”
“S’okay, I’ve got you.” Spike’s voice cracked in mid-sentence.
Suddenly remembering, Buffy struggled to lift her head up. “The…the Slayer inside…she’s…”
“Angel’s taking care of it. Don’t worry. Shhh,” Spike crooned.
Buffy struggled to stand, trying to move her legs with no success. She clutched at Spike’s shoulders weakly, her hands starting to go numb. “I have to…have to make sure…”
“Hush now,” Spike said gently.
She allowed her head to fall back against his shoulder, looking up into his worried face. She smiled woozily, the drugs beginning to affect her mood as the rush of adrenaline left her body. “You…you take care of me,” she smiled loopily, her voice high and weak.
His mouth crooked momentarily before he flattened it into a severe frown. “I do. When you let me, pet.”
She closed her eyes, snuggling into the side of his neck. “This is nice.”
Spike scoffed, hugging her tightly to him. “Is it now?” he asked incredulously, unable to keep a faint smile off his face. “You plannin’ on passing out anytime soon, Slayer?”