Title: Thought You Should Know - Chapter 23
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 and ladyofthelog for the awesome icon.
A/N 2: Another chapter in two days time? Why, yes, it's true. Having Buffy and Spike back in the same space has jumpstarted my writing. This chapter here was equal parts trial and inspiration. I hope you enjoy.
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, sycophantic 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 wasn’t going to laugh. She’d never hear the end of it if she laughed. It would only encourage him and she wanted to nip this kind of behavior in the bud. Nip it in the bud? What and where exactly was the bud? Was she supposed to be nipping something of his that was, uh, bud-like? Because she failed to see how that would stop Spike from being all gross and raunchy. More like the exact opposite. She scrunched her forehead. Right – no nipping. At least, not for something like this. Nipping wasn’t completely off the menu. More like she was nixing the inappropriately timed nipping. Yeah, and it didn’t get more inappropriate than this. Time to slay, folks. Focus.
To recap – not laughing. Definitely not laughing. For one – bad encouragement. And two – it would hurt like hell. She grimaced at the pain in her sides, a dull ache on her right, a shooting pain on her left. Broken ribs there. Crap. Good thing she was right-handed. She’d lead with her right hook, no worries. Glancing down at her feet, she wiggled her bare toes as she stalked down the hallway, wishing she had on her slaying boots. What she wouldn’t give for a sturdy heel and an attractive pointed toe. Black, preferably. Leather, even better.
Weapons. She needed weapons. Lots of sharp and pointy weapons. Ones that gave her an edge because she was feeling very edgeless stuck barefoot in the basement while probably bleeding internally. She’d swipe a sword or something off the first minion she killed. The thought cheered her. Give it up for the power of positive thinking. She smiled and stopped at the base of the stairs leading out of the lower level, waiting for Spike to catch up.
Which took all of two seconds. “What are we waiting for?” he asked from behind her, eyeing the dark stairwell curiously.
“You ready?” She met him with a level gaze, giving her best ‘this is serious business’ look.
“I was unborn ready,” he replied smugly.
Buffy turned without comment and started up the stairs, stopping halfway to poke her toe at the dead body sprawled face down on the stairs, neck wrenched so far around that it almost faced backwards.
“Connor,” Spike said simply.
“Remind me not to piss off Connor,” Buffy said, leaning down to search the guard’s body for weapons, frowning when she found none. She huffed in disappointment.
“Connor,” Spike repeated.
“Now that’s just greedy. He needs to learn how to share the toys,” she grumbled, standing up and continuing up the stairs.
Spike shrugged. “Finders keepers.”
“Says the guy preaching the five-finger discount.”
“That’s how the game is played, love. If I found it, I get to keep it. Don’t see the problem.”
“We’re gonna have a talk about stealing after-” She stopped abruptly, feet frozen in place, realizing she’d lost the moral high ground when she’d robbed that Swiss bank to fund her Slayer organization. She’d been responding to Spike out of habit. He’d steal. She’d chastise. He’d be all unrepentant. She’d reluctantly accept it as one of his flaws to be worked on at a later date. When did that change? Now that later date meant she would be teaching him the thrills to be found in robbing heavily guarded bank vaults filled with diamonds and other priceless relics. She’d gotten called up from the minors and into the majors while he was probably still playing petty theft. Maybe he should start lecturing her. Oh god, her mind slammed into a brick wall at the thought of Spike schooling her on right and wrong.
“After we bludgeon the Immortal to death with hot pokers, mallets and other assorted weaponry?” Spike finished her statement for her while her tongue lay like dead weight in her gaping mouth. “Fine by me.”
“Yeah, after that,” Buffy said half-heartedly, hiding a grimace when she released a heavy sigh that shot a throbbing fire across her ribs. Note to self – don’t sigh.
“Buffy?” Spike nudged her by the shoulder.
She blinked. “Huh?”
“You gonna open the door?”
“Oh. Yeah. Sure,” she replied, jerking forward and pushing the door open without thinking. Another demon guard with bright red eyes jumped at the sight of her, releasing the door handle he’d been in the process of opening himself. Buffy and the demon stared at each other in shock for a split second before his fist shot forward, clipping her jaw. She grunted, falling back into Spike’s arms. He caught her, hugging her reflexively before shoving her forward, out of the stairwell and to the side, sliding past her to confront the demon. Landing on her knees again – dammit, she was getting sick of being on her knees – she looked up to see Spike’s fist knock the demon back a few paces before following up with a dirty kick to the back of the demon’s knees.
The demon landed on his hip, kicking out desperately at Spike who was moving in for the kill. Spike caught the demon by the ankle, barely keeping him from hitting his groin, and twisted viciously. A sharp pop and Buffy knew the demon’s leg was dislocated. A swift twist of the neck, a loud crunch, and the demon slumped lifeless to the floor.
Buffy was torn between pride at how quickly Spike had killed the demon and chagrin that she’d been in the way of the fight, literally pushed to the sidelines. This whole damsel in distress crap needed to be over. Now. The guys were getting all the kills. Not fair.
Staggering to her feet, she met Spike’s bloodlusty grin with a tight smile, equal parts ‘good for you, honey’ pride mixed with a healthy dose of ‘you’re gonna pay for throwing me on the floor, bucko’ threat.
“Sorry.” Spike smiled apologetically.
The apology pissed her off. She could feel reason make a swift exit. Her shoulders straightened. Her spine elongated proudly. She didn’t need his apology. Like she was a weak little girl he’d played too rough with on the playground. She was the Slayer. A slayer. The Slayer. Whatever. She could kick his ass six ways from Sunday and then run 10 miles at a sprint without breaking a sweat. Fist clenched, lips snarling, she stalked towards him. The muscles in her right arm bunched up, preparing to release a solid blow. Spike jerked back, hands raised. The sight of him retreating stopped her. Shaking her head, she mentally slapped herself. No more attacking your allies, okay?
“Sorry,” Buffy muttered.
“Got a little pent up aggression in there, eh?” Spike chuckled in relief, relaxing the tension between them.
“Just ready to hit things. A lot.” Just as she finished speaking, two more demon guards with glowing red eyes ran into the corridor. “Oh, goody.”
“Looks like wishes are horses today,” Spike snarked, attacking the demon closest to him.
“Horses?” Buffy said, dodging a kick to her head. She swung her right fist, smashing the demon in the face. Bone crunched. Blood splattered. The nose. She loved going for the nose. The demon teetered. She threw another punch and heard his neck crack from the force of her fist colliding with his jaw. Oh, yeah. Slayer – 1, Demon – 0.
Grinning, she turned to Spike to share her triumph. He didn’t seem to notice. Understandable considering he was surrounded by the one demon he’d been fighting plus two more who’d arrived while her back was turned. She caught a flash of silver and her grin turned feral. Weapon. Want. A punch to the back of the demon’s skull, a twist and a turn, and the sword was in her hand, its blade sliding across the demon’s throat. She let his body thud to the floor, forgotten like a gnat she’d just swatted down, her eyes already moving to her next target.
“Spike!” she yelled. “Duck.”
He responded immediately, dropping into a crouch. Which was good because the sword blade was swinging over his head a second later, slicing through the neck of the demon standing above him. Demon head rolling, she kept on swinging, ignoring the fiery burst of pain in her chest. The blade sang, a death blur, a sharp and furious extension of her arms – her teeth, her rage, her heart – hunting for blood. It found what it wanted, slicing through the belly of the third demon, spilling his guts on the floor.
Spike scrambled away from the messy kill. “Hey! Can we not cover me in demon spew?”
Lowering the sword slowly, Buffy shrugged. “Oops. Sorry,” she mocked, eyes still bright.
Leaning back on his elbows, he looked nonplussed for a moment then pointed an accusing finger. “Play nice, Slayer.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she denied, gripping the sword firmly, its hilt bumping against her hip. Walking down the corridor, backtracking her way mentally to the center reception room where she’d last seen the Immortal, she goaded, “C’mon, Spike. Don’t wanna miss all the fun, do you?”
Leaping upright, his hand shot out, encircling her wrist. He pulled back, bringing her to a halt. “Feeling up to it now, hm?” he murmured, testing the strength in her arm.
Buffy tossed her head back. “I’m up for anything.”
He lifted his eyebrows, measuring her determination. Then he smiled. She read deep satisfaction in his gaze. She guessed whatever he saw was good enough. More than good enough. The moment burst, the tension between them blurring into swift motion. Then she was spinning, sword whipping wide in her grasp as he twirled her into his arms. He bent her back, one hand supporting under her shoulderblades, the other cradling the base of her neck, tilting her head back to gaze at the ceiling above.
Her body stilled in his embrace, her vision spinning out of orbit as her free hand clutched his right shoulder for support. She was falling. Shock blasted through her at the feel of his tongue licking a cool path along her neck, from the corded muscle sloping down to her shoulders, then up, slowly sucking across her throat. She gasped. Her heart stuttered in her chest then raced a furious beat. She arched her back, both hands clutching his shoulders, clawing through his hair, pulling him closer. Her sword lay forgotten at her feet. His tongue swam across her skin, a reverse paintbrush lapping up the bright red spilled across her neck, licking her clean.
His hunger satisfied, he finally lifted his head, running his tongue along the corners of his lips. His eyes burned her. She dazed. She wavered. She might have died. She’d have to ask him later. Time jumped and stopped and reversed around her. Inside, a tightening gyre threaded through her veins, rippling underneath her skin, reweaving the motions of her body in ways foreign and ancient. She breathed. She remembered to breathe. He smiled and then her hand was there, cupping his smooth cheek, running her fingers across his lips and the flat edges of his teeth. No fangs. She saw the faintest hint of gold in his eyes and a glow about him from feeding, but nothing more of the demon within. Where did he go? Him. It. Was there a difference?
“Was driving me mad,” he murmured against her fingertips.
Buffy licked her lips. Her throat felt raw, dry, cracked, thirsty for more of his water. She’d swallowed the Saharan without knowing it. “I…I told you sexy time later,” she stuttered.
He whipped her upright, leaving her weaving and wobbling outside the circle of his arms. “Sorry,” he drawled. “Guess I forgot.”