Title: Thought You Should Know - Chapter 22
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, Blood 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.
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.
“Grrrrrrrrhhhhh!” Spike roared, lunging forward to reach the table covered with tools in the corner. He grimaced at the shackles cutting into his ankles and slumped in defeat, forehead resting against the dirt-covered stone floor.
Connor snorted behind him. “I know you can’t go without a smoke when you’re stressed, but damn. Let it go. You’re not getting that lighter.”
Spike shot him a look of disgust. “My lock pick is up there.” He looked at the shackles at his feet. “Thought it might be useful, what with us being all locked up. Why? You got any bright ideas, Hangover Boy?”
“Might as well go for the lighter while you’re at it. Be less disappointed when you fail. Epically.” Connor slashed his hand to emphasize his mocking point. The gesture’s effectiveness was diminished by the iron shackle restricting his range of movement.
Spike sympathized with his predicament being a hand-talker himself – sort of. Still, the boy needed to stop ragging him. Lying here doing nothing? Not gonna happen.
Shaking his head, Connor continued, “It’s too far away. You’ve been at this for hours and guess what? Fail. Every time. And I’m getting tired of hearing you grunt in pain each time you try. ‘Cause sometimes…well, okay, it sounds like you kinda like it. Just saying…”
Spike scowled, turning around to silence Connor with the full brunt of his glare. “Giving up’s not an option. Don’t know what other dimwitted ideas Dear Old Dad’s been teaching you, but wallowing in self-pity? Useless.” His voice turned earnest, “Buffy’s in trouble. The fuckin’ Immortal knows she sent me that letter. Which means it’s about to get ugly. Which means I’m gonna be in the thick of it, not chained up in that wanker’s basement twiddling my busted thumbs. So a little less criticism from the peanut gallery, yeah?”
Rolling his eyes, Connor nodded his assent. Reluctantly, sure, but it was better than nothing.
Spike took that to mean ‘Yeah, whatever. Do what you want. Ain’t no skin off my bleeding ankles.’ Which was fine with Spike. Back to business. Turning around, he bunched the muscles in his arms, preparing to lunge for the table that was barely a foot outside of his reach.
“Hey, you hear that?” Connor said.
Spike froze, listening. Footsteps. Damn. He glanced at the table beyond his reach, then the shackles around his ankles and the empty shackles hanging from the ceiling. Standing, he jumped up, gripping the chains with his bloodied hands, hiding his wrists behind the cuffs. Maybe whoever was coming wouldn’t notice he’d gotten free. Well, halfway free.
If he’d needed to breathe, he would have forgotten how at the sight of her. Blonde hair falling to her shoulders, white blouse opening to a V above breasts, dark blue slacks hugging the curves of her hips, dainty feet in black boots and that smile – what wouldn’t he do for that smile? God, she was too good to be true. He thought so before he even noticed the key in her hand. She was savior, warrior, lover. Inspiration. Life. Everything. She was a vision of loveliness. He was without words, struck dumb by her strength and beauty. Perfection from her toes to the tips of her fingers.
“Don’t worry, guys. You’ll be out of here in no time,” Buffy reassured.
“Awesome,” Connor breathed.
The words from her letter flashed through his mind at the click of the key turning in the cell door’s lock. What to say to her? What could he possibly say to her that would be good enough? He didn’t deserve her. His words weren’t enough. Preoccupied with the idea of playing off some other famous poet’s words as his own – could he pull it off? which poem would be best? – he quickly dismissed it as beneath him, then blinked in shock when another figure trudged into his line of sight.
This blonde was a far cry from perfect. Red dress ripped, knees and elbows skinned bloody raw and covered in dirt, hair tangled and wild. She stumbled forward, one foot propped up on an impossibly high stiletto heel while the other scraped against the floor, naked. Head slumped down, she raised a wavering hand to push the hair out of her face and gave him a tired smile. “Spike,” she whispered, though he wasn’t even sure she’d said the words aloud. All he saw were her lips moving and her eyes; they’d seared him, made the world go still and then jumpstart into a surreal explosion of inner sensation. Buffy? How?
He watched her slump wearily to her knees, grimacing before touching her neck and pulling away a bloody hand. Then she was in front of him, the other Buffy, and reaching for the shackles that were pretending to keep him restrained. Her scent assaulted him, telling him it was her. He looked at her, the curve of her cheek, the graceful flow of her neck, the swirl of her inner ear, the sweet pointed tip of her nose. Buffy. Every inch of her was Buffy. Then he looked into her eyes. Nothing. She seemed mildly affectionate and pleasant tempered from what he read in that hazel pool. Not his girl. Buffy was nothing if not passionate. And she’d never been mildly anything when it came to him. Theirs was a world of extremes – from hate to love, to loving hate and hating love and every emotion in between.
The scent of Buffy’s blood wafted forward, strong and near. The other’s hand was covered in it. Not that any human would notice the speck gracing her thumb, but to a vampire the smallest drop smelled overpowering. Two Buffies. One beaten down and bleeding, the other looking fit as you please and empty in the eyes. That and she was covered in Buffy’s blood.
Blood doesn’t lie. Not to a vampire.
“Say hello to the cavalry, here to rescue y--” her voice cut out, Spike’s shocking drop from his grip on the hanging chains surprising her. She didn’t have a chance to exclaim in surprise. He didn’t give her one. He just attacked.
Vice grip around her throat, they fell to the floor, a tangle of limbs. Enraged vampire assaults masquerading Slayer – news at 11. He ripped the key from her hand, pinning her beneath his knees then swiveled back to unlock the shackles around his ankles, lightning fast. Vampire speed at work – adept, graceful, deadly. The fake Buffy gurgled urgently at his strangling grasp. He ignored her, slipping his other foot free and standing, adjusting his chokehold as he rose and lifting her by the neck. He shoved her back, wrenching one of her hands up and closing a shackle around one dainty wrist. Then the other, leaving her hanging in the air.
“Hey…” she choked in protest, her throat bruised.
Not that he bothered to listen. He was already through the cell door and kneeling in front of Buffy, gently lifting her hand from her neck so he could examine the wound. It was more than a graze, still bleeding sluggishly despite her Slayer healing. Too fucking close to her carotid for his peace of mind. He vaguely noticed the growl rumbling in his chest and the fangs biting his lips.
“It’s nothing,” he dismissed her concern about his broken thumbs. They were already healing. “Your neck’s-”
“I’m okay,” she said hoarsely. “It just sort of stings. How did you-”
“The Immortal. Wanker got the drop on us while I was kicking back one too many Jack D’s.”
“What’d I do now?” Spike asked, affronted.
“No, the Immortal. Asshole,” Buffy grunted. “That jerk is begging to be slayed after the mother of all beat downs. Then I’m gonna have Willow resurrect him so I can kill him all over again.”
Spike sat back on his haunches, gazing at her, blue eyes wide. All traces of aggression were wiped clean from his face. “God, I love you,” he said in wonder.
Buffy simply smiled.
“Hey, guys? You planning on letting me down anytime soon? You know, like ever?” Connor asked, shaking the chains impatiently.
Spike smiled and shared a look of amusement with Buffy before rising and offering his hand to her. She took it, letting him help her stand. He masked his concern at her wobbling balance, unused to her faltering, but not wanting to insult her, treat her as weak. Leaving her trailing behind him, resisting the urge to carry her in his arms, he strode forward, swiftly freeing Connor’s arms, stepping back to let the boy drop nimbly to the floor.
“Feeling better, then?” Spike asked, catching sight of Connor’s wide grin. He tossed over the key, letting Connor finish undoing the ankle shackles.
“You know me, not one to complain. Can’t wait for the next time we get locked up and tossed into a torture room. Fun times,” Connor snarked, stretching the kinks out of his sore arms.
“Naked fun times, apparently,” Buffy observed from her leaning post against the cell door, eyeing Spike’s naked, muscular chest next to Connor’s slender build. Eyebrow raised, she asked, “Should I be jealous?”
“I’m not one to stray, love,” Spike said, smiling.
“Lucky me,” Buffy returned, arms carefully hugging her ribs as she kicked off her lone stiletto heel.
The fake Buffy coughed hoarsely, shooting Buffy an urgent look. “Tell him to let me down, Buffy. We don’t have a lot of time.”
Spike snorted. “Not bloody likely.”
Buffy pursed her lips. “I don’t know. I’m thinking chains are a good look for you. Even if it’s just temporary. If we wait five more minutes, maybe you’ll switch back over to the evil side again. We’ll wait and see.”
Spike nodded at the fake Buffy. “What’s her deal?”
“Decoy Slayer. It was Andrew’s idea,” Buffy explained at Spike’s questioning look.
“And you went along with it? Tsk tsk, Slayer. Somebody’s getting sloppy,” he teased.
“Buffy, please,” the fake one pleaded. “We’re running out of time. He’s going to know I turned on him and then we’ll be fighting through an army to get the last crystal in place. We need to go now.”
Buffy shook her head, sagging against the cell door. “Give me a minute and then I’ll go take care of it.”
“We don’t have time for that! He’s going to realize I lied about where Willow and the others are holed up. Then it’s game over. We have to go now. I’ll do it, just let me go.”
“No, you’re not going alone,” Buffy denied her. “No way in hell.”
“You still don’t trust me,” the fake Buffy breathed.
Buffy touched her bloody neck. “Can you really blame me?”
"You need my help," the fake Buffy insisted.
"Tell me you don't love him," Buffy demanded. "Then I'll let you go."
The Decoy dropped her gaze.
"Thought so," Buffy said grimly. "You're not going anywhere. You're staying here, out of the way, while we go take care of your boyfriend."
The Decoy shook her head, desperation in her voice, "You need me. And I need to help. Maybe I don't know how to ki-, to stop him. Maybe I can't. But those girls..."
"Slayers," Buffy added, voice hard.
"They're dead because of him. I don't know why he...or even how. But I know it has to stop. I can help you. Let me help you. I want to make it right. Please," she begged.
“I’ll go with her,” Connor interrupted, stepping forward to unlock the Decoy’s arm shackles.
“Wait a minute,” Spike said, stepping in front of him. He nodded at Buffy, “Slayer’s call.”
“She’s not going. I’ll do it. I just need a minute,” Buffy insisted.
“You can barely stand up. We don’t have time for you to recover, okay?” the fake Buffy said urgently. She turned her gaze on Spike, “She’s out of it. Maybe she’ll be up to it in a few minutes, but by then it could be too late.”
Spike squinted, eyeing Buffy in concern. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing except a few thousand volts being shot through her body,” the fake Buffy said before Buffy could answer. “I’m surprised she’s still conscious.”
Buffy grunted. “I don’t have time to be unconscious. But I’ve got it penciled in for later, thanks for asking.”
“Right, makes sense to me,” Connor said, stepping around Spike to let the fake Buffy down, who rubbed her wrists. “We’ll go do whatever we’ve gotta do. Divide and conquer and kick ass.”
“We’ve gotta put the crystal in place so that Willow can break through the magical defenses,” the fake Buffy explained.
“Right, that,” Connor nodded, bending down to pick up his shirt from the corner and pulling it over his head.
“It’s the room to the left of the entrance hallway,” Buffy said grudgingly, eyeing the other Buffy suspiciously. “Be careful, Connor.”
Spike watched Buffy, listening offhand to the young and dynamic duo leave the cell. He was surprised she'd given in so easily when she clearly didn't trust the other girl. She must be worse off than she was letting on. As soon as Connor and the other Buffy were out of sight, he strode forward, gripping Buffy by her arms before she dropped to the floor. He lowered her down, hunching to meet her at eye level.
“Not having the best day, are we?”
“You noticed, huh?” Buffy said tiredly. “I’m okay. Really. It’s finally starting to pass. I’m a little dizzy, that’s all. I just need a-”
“Minute. Yeah, you said that already.” Spike eyed the slash across her neck, worrying.
“It’s fine. Already starting to heal,” Buffy said, noticing his look. “It doesn’t even hurt. It’s just messy.”
Spike smirked. “You know, I could help with that. The messy part.”
Buffy hesitated for a long moment then said half-heartedly, “Ew! Gross, Spike.”
“You were gonna let me do it!” he crowed, a shit-eating grin splitting his cheeks. Leaning towards her neck, he rumbled, “Now just hold still, baby, while I lick it all up.”
“Ugh!” Buffy shoved him away, making him fall onto his back. She scowled at his howling laughter. “Why are you being such an annoying jerk?”
“Thought you loved it when I was being annoying,” Spike chuckled, rubbing his chest where she’d shoved him. “Guess your strength’s coming back.”
“It’s called rage. It’s like adrenaline for Slayers only…you got my letter?” Buffy jumped topics on him.
“Did I ever?” Spike said, wiggling his healing thumbs cryptically.
“That’s it? That’s all you’re gonna say? You’re freakin’ kidding me,” Buffy grumbled, crossing her arms over her chest.
“What do you want me to say?” Spike asked, rolling to his knees.
Buffy rolled her eyes.
“How your eyes are like moonbeams that lay me low? How your touch makes me tremble?” He crawled towards her slowly.
Buffy huffed, staring at a spot over his shoulder.
“How I love you so god damned much that it nearly killed me to think I’d lost you?” he breathed against her cheek.
“Only nearly?” Buffy avoided looking at him.
“Heartbroken. Devastated. A shell of what I once was. No hope for what I could be. Nothing left to look forward to but an endless parade of days missing you. Tortured. Defeated. Alone.”
Buffy turned her gaze on him. “Sounds pretty bad.”
He nodded. “A fate worse than death.”
“You’re lucky I came for you. Put you out of your misery,” she said solemnly, eyes dancing.
“Don’t need to tell me how lucky I am,” he said huskily, leaning in to brush his lips against hers.
“Spike?” Buffy whispered against his lips.
“Hm?” He nibbled her lower lip, waiting for her.
“Let’s go kill that Immortal asshole.”
“Oh, dirty talk,” Spike grinned evilly. “You’re turning me on.”
Buffy raised both eyebrows. “Uh huh. Slay now, sexy time later.”
He swooped in for a hard press of lips and tongue before jumping to his feet and mock saluting. “Like I said, Slayer’s call.”
She followed him, rising up on her own steam with a steely grace. Glancing down at his naked chest, she asked, “Shirt?”
Spike swept his shirt up out of the corner and held it to his chest. “Don’t want anyone else getting an eyeful? I love it when you’re all possessive,” he teased, pulling the black t-shirt over his head.
She rolled her eyes in disgust and stalked out of the cell barefoot, not bothering to check if he was following.
He normally would have worried that he’d brassed her off. Pushed her too far. But he’d caught the huge grin on her face when her back was half-turned. The lady might play pissed off like she was gunning for an Oscar, but she wasn’t fooling him.
The Slayer was head over bare heels. No question.
Damn. He loved Rome.