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, Language 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.
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.
They moved in for the kill, side by side, together. Her blood pumped in time with each hot exhale from her aching chest. The sword steadied her. She loved the weight of it. Her senses widened, expanding every sound and movement into super surround sound playing in slow motion. She saw Spike raise the axe gripped in his right hand and move to flank the Immortal on the right while she went left. She heard the torches crackling. She smelled leather and blood and sweat. She didn’t hear the sound of their feet moving forward – there was nothing to hear.
They were silent. They were deadly. They were perfect. Her mind whispered ‘Slayer’. She looked to her right and amended ‘Slayers’. This immortal jerkoff was toast. Extra-burnt and crispy toast that you dumped in the trash because it’s beyond saving.
Then the Immortal Jerkoff started laughing. Hysterical laughter. Or what passed for hysterical laughter from a guy so suave and together that every expression came off as calculating. The laughter was bizarrely spontaneous, coming from deep within his chest and causing his whole body to shake on the floor. He’d stopped cupping his groin, his hands now splayed over his stomach.
Buffy looked at Spike and raised an eyebrow in the Immortal’s direction. Spike shrugged his axe which she took to mean ‘I’m here to cause carnage, not psychoanalyze the wanker.’ And he wasn’t wrong. That was the beauty of slaying. Once your target was acquired, the job description was pretty simple.
“What will be next? What other petty emasculation do you have hidden in your arsenal?” the Immortal said, still chuckling.
“You know, normally I’m all for the witty repartee mid-slay, but, Morty, I’m gonna have to start charging you by the hour for my slaying services if you’re just gonna waste my time with the non-stop talk,” Buffy said, inching closer. Spike moved into position on the other side. “So what’s it gonna be? You gonna just lie there chatting?”
“I see no reason to cater to your desires.”
“Enough already,” Spike snarled and swung the axe at Morty’s neck. Buffy jerked into motion a moment later, sword slicing through the air in the hope of catching up with Spike and resuming their in sync attack. She should have known he’d be less patient with the Immortal’s bullshit. Her guy had a short temper.
The Immortal caught the axe by the hilt – and what no he shouldn’t but he did oh crap – and blocked her sword with the blunt edge of the axe’s head. He pulled the axe to his right, throwing Spike off-balance and smashing into her. Spike fought to regain his footing, spinning around wildly. He tripped her. She fell backwards, grabbing his shirt collar for support. They both careened into the mammoth-sized oak side table running along the long, center carpet. Her shoulder banged against the table’s edge. His elbow cluncked it. They landed in a tangle of limbs, their weapons clattering on the marble floor.
“Spike! Get off me!”
“Argh! Careful with the knee, Slayer! You’re awfully eager in hitting that area, love. Frustrated, are we? Maybe I should’ve-”
“Shut up!” Buffy spat and shoved him to the side.
The Immortal stood a few yards away, watching them while he brushed imaginary lint off his silk shirt. He caught her eye and smirked. No, just no. There was so much wrong with this picture. Fists clenched so tightly her joints popped, she rose to her knees. “Oh, yeah, you’re a funny guy,” she said, bristling as she stood up.
“When you have lived as long as I have, there comes a time when you must create your own amusements.”
“Amusement? As in, game?” she said, swinging her fist at his jaw. Left, right, left, right. She beat him back with each furious punch. “Is this all a game to you?!”
The Immortal caught her right fist. She swung her left. He caught it in his large hand, pushing both arms down to meet her glare. “Everything is a game. Life never knowing death. The game never ends.” His sneer contorted into a grimace of pain as he jerked forward, grunting, before he slumped to his knees. She saw the axe sticking out of his back.
“Sometimes you just gotta know when to fold ‘em,” Spike drawled.
Buffy didn’t gloat. Spike had it covered. Instead, she dove for the sword lying yards behind her. The Immortal was down, but not out. “Looks like you lost the coin toss, Morty. Heads,” she said, swinging the blade into his neck. She felt it pierce the corded muscle of his neck and slide through flesh. Then it stopped. Her arms froze, holding the blade still in his neck as it grazed his spine. Grunting, she tried pushing the blade through. Her arms shook, but held firm, refusing to move as she willed. Sweat trickled down her brow. She gritted her teeth and pushed again. Nothing.
“Has your bloodlust been satisfied?” the Immortal said, pushing the blade out of his neck. It slid free, the gaping wound sealing closed as the edge of the sword retreated. “You are destined for disappointment, Slayer. Or how would you say? Wannabe Slayer.”
Buffy stared in shock at Spike. Her arm dropped, the sword tip falling down to clank against the floor. Spike took up where she left off. Always good to get a second opinion. He ripped the axe out of the Immortal’s back and swung down. The attack never connected. Mid-stroke, the double doors blasted open with a fiery red energy that knocked everyone back. Buffy and Spike were thrown a few yards behind the Immortal, who only shuddered from the forceful entrance as he braced himself on his knees.
“The witch…” the Immortal whispered, turning to face Willow’s black eyes as she floated past the entrance, energy crackling from her hands and whipping strands of red hair around her face.
“Willow!” Buffy yelled. “We can’t ki-”
Wait, huh? You know I don’t like it when you do that, Will.
Do you really wanna argue right now? ‘Cause kinda busy here.
Willow was channeling a huge ball of magic that swirled between her hands like a purple fireball.
“Yes, strike hard and true, witch,” the Immortal said, standing and rapping his chest. “You are one of the most powerful beings left in this wasteland. Do not hold back.”
“No holding back, check,” Willow said in a low voice, before throwing her arms forward and releasing the purple fireball. The magic flashed a blinding light as it collided into the Immortal’s chest. He stumbled back a few paces, bending down with his hands braced on his knees.
He looked up and chuckled. “Not bad, witch. Give me more,” he said, twisting his neck and wiping away the blood to show his wound now completely disappeared.
Willow shot mystical electricity from her hands. The vines of energy connected with the Immortal, entering his body. “Pain,” Willow snarled, reinforcing the spell. The Immortal threw his head back, eyes closed. Yeah, that was definitely not pain on his face.
Willow, it’s not working. He’s absorbing-
Try something else.
Get creative. Think outside the box.
Right. Box. Got it.
Willow pointed at one of the large oak side tables. It shook on the ground then rose up, hovering off the floor. She flung her hand at the Immortal. The huge table flew through the air. The Immortal ducked. Buffy and Spike didn’t. At least, not enough.
Sounds of fighting pushed away the cotton candy fuzz and little psychedelic birdies singing around her head. Someone shouted. Metal clashed. Angry voices. Battle cries. Then a snarky come-on. Faith. Sure, why not? Everybody gets a turn on the merry-go-round.
She groaned, her entire lower body screaming out under a crushing pressure. She wanted the numbing cotton candy back.
“Buffy! You alright? Buffy!” Spike sounded concerned and pissed off.
She groaned again.
“Love, wake up! We’ve gotta push. I can’t lift this on my own.”
“Ow,” she said, squinting one eye open to look up at Spike leaning over her. “How come you aren’t all smooshed?”
“It clipped my shoulder. Knocked me out of the way.”
“Save the sweet talk for later and push,” he said, gripping the table’s edge that rested on top of her pelvis and across her legs.
Groaning, she shoved up with all the strength she could muster. It wasn’t a lot. They lifted the table up enough that the pressure crushing lessened across her pelvis and thighs. Her muscles shook and gave out. She let go, arms dropping to the floor.
Spike cursed, his hands almost losing their grip as he fought to keep the table from falling down on her. “No, not today! Push, dammit. Thought you were stronger than this. You been fooling me this whole time? All it takes is a bloody piece of furniture and you’re calling it quits?”
She glared back in answer to his taunt.
“No. Didn’t think so. Now, push!”
Gritting her teeth and channeling her desire to slap Spike, she pushed with all her strength. Spike crouched next to her, the muscles in his legs and arms straining against the weight. When the table was angled high enough, he slipped his shoulder underneath and pushed, freeing her legs. He bobbed down, bending his knees, and shot up, leveraging the table higher another foot in the air while he dropped down and grabbed Buffy by the shoulders. He jerked her back, pulling her away from the table as what felt like several tons of oak walloped down against the marble floor.
“You okay?” Spike asked, lying next to her on the floor.
Buffy stared at the table, eyes wide. “What exactly was your plan if that hadn’t worked?”
“Figure we’d be smooshed together.” He coughed out a laugh. “Buffy, you okay?”
“Yeah, I think - ow,” Buffy said, feeling a twinge in her right ankle as she sat up. She tested it again, trying to lift her foot. Broken. Or sprained bad enough to feel like it was broken. “I think my ankle’s-”
Spike rolled over her, kicking out at the guard swinging a mace. Buffy rolled away from the two grappling and tried to stand. Her ankle protested, refusing to hold her weight. She fell back down to her knees and noticed the chaos around her. Dozens of guards were fighting Slayers in the large hall. Flashes of magic throughout the room told her Willow’s wiccan crew were hard at work.
The Immortal was easy to find in the crush. Half a dozen yards away, he towered over everyone. God, was he really that tall? She saw a tiny blonde stride up to him, the demons around him parting to let her pass. She looked almost childlike in height standing next to his tall form. There was nothing childlike about the slap she delivered. The smack whipped his head back.
“Stop this!” the Decoy yelled, pointing at the demons and Slayers fighting around her. “If you ever cared about me at all…”
The Immortal didn’t answer, only gripped the Decoy’s arms and shoved her into the waiting arms of his guards. “Remove her from the conflict. Guard her,” he ordered. Then he muttered, “Protect her.”
The Decoy fought against the guards pulling her away. “No, you have to stop this! Please!”
The Immortal turned to look at the Decoy. Distracted, he didn’t see Faith diving over the heads of demon guards surrounding him, the Scythe in her hand. She landed nimbly. “Yeah, immortal dude, stop this,” she said, driving the pointy end of the Scythe through his heart.
The Immortal shuddered and gripped the hilt of the Scythe, falling to his knees dramatically. He closed his eyes. Almost as if he was waiting. Then opened them and stared down at the Scythe. “I would have thought if any weapon could…” he said, questioning. He laughed harshly. “Not even the weapon that slew the pure demons can end me.”
“Buffy, look out!” Spike yelled, forcing Buffy to look away from Faith and the Immortal in time to see a demon guard wielding a knife. She kicked his legs out from under him. He fell on top of her. They rolled on the ground, fighting for the knife. A wild slash cut her hand and she grunted. Hand already bleeding, she became less careful in her grip and used all her brute force to push the blade down into the demon’s chest, cutting her hands along the way. The demon sputtered out a final breath then went still.
Buffy rolled away, lying on her back. She looked to her right and saw Spike and Connor helping a group of outnumbered Slayers. And was that Angel and Xander actually working together to decapitate a demon? And there was Giles directing the girls into the fray with his upraised sword. Looks like the whole gang was here. It was kinda like a reunion. Only more fighting. Okay, it was exactly like a Harris family reunion.
“No!” Willow screamed. Buffy whipped her head around to see the Immortal pulling a knife from Kennedy’s gut. A blast of magic forced the Immortal back away from Kennedy as she fell. Willow caught her girlfriend, clutching her in her arms, rocking her back and forth as she murmured healing incantations.
“Will your magic be enough?” the Immortal goaded.
Buffy struggled to stand, watching as the black in Willow’s eyes spread to her hair. Willow lowered Kennedy to the floor, standing. A quick succession of fiery blasts blinded Buffy. She heard the Immortal’s laughter and Willow’s enraged cries with each burst of power. The light faded and Buffy saw the Immortal reach into his pocket and pull out a black orb the size of a baseball. He tossed it in the air, caught it and rolled it across his fingers.
“Why won’t you die?!” Willow snarled, shooting another blast of power.
“Good question. One begins to wonder, what it would take for you to die, witch. Would you like to see if this works? The oubliette. Where you and your power will be forgotten,” he said, holding up the black orb. Willow shot another blast of magic at the Immortal, the power hitting the orb he held at his chest. The orb glistened a bright white, absorbing the magic. Then the orb’s clear surface shivered. Black tentacles broke from the orb, shooting out towards Willow and surrounding her. The black whipped around Willow’s body, up her torso and moved to cover her mouth, glistening silver in the black as it leeched away magic.
The darkness was swallowing her whole.