Title: Thought You Should Know - Chapter 13
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.
Buffy felt the room tilt slightly. She crossed her arms in front of her, suddenly very aware that she was naked underneath the towel. Not that it mattered. It was just Willow.
Except it was Willow. Who wasn’t supposed to be here, who was supposed to be in Scotland with faux!Buffy and, and… Oh, crappit. Willow looked pissed. She had that you-better-explain-yourself-missy look on her face with a hint of hurt around the corners of her eyes.
Buffy clutched the top of her towel and gave a faint smile. “Hey, Wills…um, just let me get dressed real quick.” She stepped back, inviting Willow to follow her into the suite as she turned towards her luggage laid out next to the bed. The snick of the door closing made her shoulders twitch and she quickly grabbed a shirt and jeans to slip into. Oops, and panties. Underwear was definitely of the good. Not that she was using getting dressed as a delaying tactic. She totally wasn’t.
“So you having fun? I sure hope you are. I hope this was worth it. So was it? Was it fun?” Willow tossed the accusation bitterly at Buffy’s back.
Buffy gulped, closing her eyes before reaching down to slide the jeans up over her hips and beneath the towel wrapped around her.
“Are you gonna answer me?” Willow’s voice grated roughly and Buffy jerked her shoulder defensively.
Holding the white baby tee to her chest she turned to meet Willow’s accusatory gaze. “Willow, it’s hard to explain. So much has happened. I just had to…” Buffy looked at her imploringly.
“You had to what? Lie to your friends? Disappear completely? Run halfway across the world? Send a girl magicked up to look and act just like you to trick us all into thinking you were okay?” Willow’s lip quivered and she dropped her gaze. “Oh, you’re hurt –“ Willow reached forward to touch the bite marks on Buffy’s shoulder only to pull back abruptly, scowling. “Not that I care. ‘Cause I’m still mad at you. Really mad. Extremely, monumentally angry.” She grimaced sympathetically. “Does it hurt?”
Buffy absently touched the bite marks before shrugging. “These? No, not really. Not anymore. They’re healing.” Turning, she dropped the towel and swiftly pulled the white baby tee over her head, patting the hem of the shirt into place around the rise of her jeans. Licking her lips, she looked at Willow over her shoulder. “On a scale of one to ten, how angry are you really?”
Willow raised an eyebrow, firming her lips and chin into her most reproving expression before pointing at her face.
Buffy sighed. “Right. Okay. I can explain.” She fluttered her hands as she looked around the room. “I really can explain. I swear. I…I…” She collapsed back on the bed in defeat. “I don’t even know where to begin.”
“How about start with what you’re doing here? Or why you lied to your best friends? More than lied – you flat-out conned us. Well okay, the other Buffy only fooled Xander and Dawn and the other Slayers but…”
Buffy looked up knowingly. “She didn’t fool you. I thought maybe…I mean, the Buffybot fooled you that first time.”
Willow shrugged. “Yeah, but that was then. Things are different now. I didn’t want to freak you out but ever since we – since I brought you back…”
Buffy looked down, eyes going out of focus. “We’re connected.”
“Yeah,” Willow agreed softly. Puffing out a breath of air, she continued. “I already know part of it, if that helps. Andrew spilled his guts after I tossed Imposter Buffy across the room and threatened to go all Dark Wicca on him if he didn’t tell us what happened to you in Rome. I would’ve been here sooner except I was out following a mystical lead when your twin arrived.” The last tinges of anger falling away, Willow walked forward and sat down next to Buffy, shoulder to shoulder. “So Spike’s alive and you decided to pull a President Dave in order to take a vacay from the Slayer White House.”
“Dave? Obama’s real first name is Dave?” Buffy squinted thoughtfully. “Somehow that sounds even weirder than Barack. Dave Obama.” Buffy shook her head dazedly. “Wait – his last name’s really Obama, right?”
“No, it’s a – Xander would totally get me right now.” Willow bit her lip. “Buffy, what’s going on? You just left and, well, us being in Scotland I was thinking fairies had grabbed you and left a fetch in your place.”
“Why would fairies leave –oh, you said…right, not clutch. ‘Cause fairies wouldn’t leave a purse in my place. What’s a fetch?”
“It’s a doppelgänger the Fae make out of shadow to stand in for the person they kidnap and take back to their otherworld and hey, stop distracting me ‘cause I know you don’t really care about this stuff.” Willow lightly slapped her palms on the top of her thighs before shaking her right index finger at Buffy.
Buffy grinned, her cheeks dimpling.
“And hey, no acting all cute. You’re not off the hook. You are so far from hookless, missy, you don’t even know,” Willow admonished.
Properly chastened, Buffy let the smile slip from her lips. “I just had to. I was angry and upset and I just had to come here.”
Willow shook her head. “And you couldn’t have just called us? Let somebody know you were okay? Buffy, you really scared us. And I’m only half trying to guilt trip you here, but it’s true. We were worried.”
Buffy looked down, sticking her hands between her knees like a little girl hiding a secret. “I just…I was looking for…”
“A bit of cold comfort?” Spike interrupted from the open doorway connecting to the suite next door.
“Spike,” Buffy greeted him with a surprised smile.
“Spike! Hey, you’re alive. Good for you,” Willow chirped.
Spike nodded tersely at Willow, never taking his eyes off Buffy. “So that’s it, then? You decided to put your old tune on repeat?”
Buffy shook her head, eyes confused. “What? I don’t – ”
“You know, you showed up out of the blue and I didn’t want to question it. So damned happy to see you I didn’t stop to think. Maybe I didn’t wanna know.” Eyes narrowed, he pointed at her sharply. “Keeping secrets again, love? Looking for a distraction, eh? Something you were too ashamed to tell your pet Scoobies about?” Spike grimaced, eyes ice cold as he bristled with anger and bent pride.
“Spike, what are you talking about? I didn’t –”
“So you’re denying it? Sorry, sweetheart, but I heard it straight from the witch’s mouth. You ran off for a secret, dirty little run-in with yours truly.” He hit his chest with a clenched fist. “I wondered why you never bothered to write back or leave word till now. Wasn’t worth your time, was I? Not until you felt like bringing your dolly out of the box.” He sneered.
Willow stood up and edged towards the suite’s main door. “Um, I’m just gonna…” She left abruptly, closing the door behind her.
Buffy stood up, hands fisted at her hips. “What’s going on? You just show up and start throwing around accusations like you – ”
“Accusations? That’s what we’re calling it, are we?” Spike stalked forward, shoulders hunched forward aggressively. “More like finally getting to the bloody truth! You never were straight with me, love.” He leaned back from her, looking her up and down measuringly. “No, s’not right. You never made any promises, did you? You never lied.” He closed his eyes in self-disgust, biting his lower lip before looking up at the ceiling in despair. “I always fall for it. Always. Girl smiles my way, I bend over backwards.” He looked at her sadly, eyes dripping with regret. “Woulda given you the moon. The moon and all the stars in the bleedin’ sky. Woulda given you everything. Anything.” He tilted his head, eyes vulnerable and sad. “But it’s never enough, is it? Never enough,” he finished softly, turning to leave.
“Spike, no…” Buffy reached forward to stop him, touching him gently by the arm.
Spike growled, turning and grabbing Buffy by the arms and shoving her back till her knees buckled against the bed and she tumbled down. Panting, she looked up in shock, struck silent by the waves of restrained violence emanating from Spike’s glaring eyes.
“No more games,” Spike snarled. “I’m done being your whipping boy. Your dirty little secret.” A strange calm descending, he raised his head proudly. “Done being used.”
“I’m not using you, Spike,” Buffy denied, shocked. “This – us – it’s different. You have to believe – ”
“Actions speak louder than words, pet. And yours are screaming something fierce. I‘ve seen it all before. Enough to recognize it.” He shook his head, his mouth twisted bitterly. “Besides, it’s not like you’ve been saying much with words. And when you do, they’re never the right ones.”
Buffy’s breath caught in her throat and she swallowed jaggedly. Struggling to breath, she forced her mouth open wide. “Spike…” she fought to bring the words out, terrified to let them be free but more terrified of what she’d lose if she didn’t. “I lo – I love you.”
“You can’t even bring yourself to say it, can you? Not say it and really mean it. Not to me.” He stepped back, hands held high in defeat. “I’m just chasing a fantasy, aren’t I? Been holding out hope for over a year that somehow on the other side of the world, you were waiting there for me. Just wasn’t our time yet. ‘Cept it’s never gonna be our time. I’m just the fool, yeah.” He smiled sadly, his eyes burning. He nodded numbly. “So it’s done. We’re done.”
“No,” Buffy whispered, reaching up from the bed to him, entreating.
He jerked away from her touch. “Go home, Buffy. You don’t belong here. Go home!” he spat before ripping open the suite’s door and storming down the hallway.
Buffy stared at the empty space Spike had disappeared from, her hand still reaching out towards where he’d stood only moments ago. She slowly let her hand drop down, numb to the passage of time as she listened to the pounding of her heart and the rasping of her breath. The air felt heavy, like it was pushing down on her and she gave in to the weight and the weakness, falling to the bed with eyes open and still. When her eyes began to hurt from the unbearable dryness, she’d allow a single blink to disturb her frozen pose.
Her chest ached and she idly wondered if she’d somehow broken something internally in the fight yesterday. Patting her chest searchingly, she found no surprise wounds or physical injuries. There would be no new scars to mark the surface of her skin. That’s as it should be. All her greatest wounds were carried in her heart. Her mangled, broken, aching heart. Oh. That’s the pain. She remembered it now. She wondered why she wasn’t crying and then decided she must have run out of tears. Or maybe she’d forgotten how.
She laid her hand on her heart as if to provide healing pressure for the invisible gaping hole, pushing down hard so the pain would come from the outside rather than from within. A gentle knock on the door drifted to Buffy’s ears and her eyelids twitched.
“Buffy? Can I come in?” Willow asked hesitantly.
Willow. Willow wanted to come in. Come in where? Where was she? She looked blankly at the ceiling, trying to discern any clues from the spackled patterns.
A warm hand touched her arm and she absorbed the sensation, letting the heat roll through her. She’d never noticed before, but she could actually feel the magic in Willow’s touch. That supernatural sensation of power akin to the tingle she felt when a vampire was near. She only felt it now because she was so still, existing in slow motion, the moments in between action and thought.
Magic. Vampire. Supernatural. Slayer. She was the Slayer. She had to move. Slayers didn’t stop because they were in pain. They rode it out. It was her duty. Time to get up now. Get up, Buffy. Get up.
“Buffy? Are you okay?”
Buffy blinked rapidly, her vision coming into focus. She looked at Willow, noting her concerned expression and smiled reassuringly, the pull of muscles feeling forced and plastic. “I’m okay, Wills.” Sitting up stiffly, Buffy looked around the room till she located her luggage on the other side of the bed. “Just let me pack real quick and we can leave.”
Willow looked at her strangely for a moment before nodding. “Okay, I’ll call and make sure the plane’s ready.” She smiled. “I figured you wouldn’t want to teleport since it makes you…you know…” Willow mimed a gagging motion.
Buffy collected her bags and nodded. “Don’t worry about it, Will. Fly, teleport, whatev. It won’t make me ‘you know’. I’m sure I won’t feel a thing.”
“Right. I’ll just go let Angel know we’re leaving. You’ll be down in a few?” Willow asked over her shoulder as she walked outside the suite.
Buffy smiled again, her cheeks straining numbly like a doll moving at will. “Yep. Be right down.”
Walking towards the bathroom to gather her toiletries, she frowned as she stepped into the wet carpet leading to the doorway. Opening the door, water sluiced out in waves and Buffy gasped. She’d left the bath’s faucet on. The bathroom was overflowing as she trudged forward to turn off the hot water valve. Standing in the middle of the watery floor, Buffy grimaced at the projected damage she’d done to Angel’s hotel. Maybe Willow could magically whip up a quick fix. Or she could just use some of her ill-gotten money to pay her way out of this problem.
“It’ll be okay. I won’t feel a thing.”