Scottish countryside, a moonlight night
Post-After the Fall and Pre-Time of Your Life
Spike floored the gas pedal as he guided his black Lamborghini Roadster around a sharp turn, the spinning tires kicking pebbles over the edge of the cliff into the crashing waves below. ‘Gotta get there first, gotta beat him,’ the mantra punctuated every fiber of his being as his hands tensed on the steering wheel. He let out a tense unnecessary breath yet his eyes remained intensely focused on the road as he dangerously accelerated – 95 mph, 100…105…115…SCREEEEEEEEECH!
A sight off in the distance startled him and he yanked on the emergency break, pulling the steering wheel as he guided the sports car into a controlled spin onto the side of the road. His hand was already reaching for the door handle to jump out before the car came to a complete halt. With a burst of inhuman speed, Spike ran the distance back up the road as the sounds of fighting reaching his over-sensitized hearing.
Down the hillside near a copse of trees, a vampire the size of Triple H whacked Buffy upside the head with a rotting branch. She fell to the ground, dazed. ‘This is what I get for telling Xander I needed more “me time”,’ she mocked herself as she rolled away, narrowly avoiding Mr. Tall, Huge and Ginormous’ foot landing where her head lay a few seconds ago.
Throwing a sliding side kick on the ground, Buffy hoped to knock Big and Ugly off his feet except his legs were like tree trunks and he barely flinched at the contact. Her failed attack only served to annoy him as he grunted in anger and reached down to pick her up by her neck, holding her aloft as her legs kicked at his torso and her hands struggled to loosen his stranglehold.
“Time to die, Slayer,” the vampire growled as he leaned in to bite her neck.
“Gaaahhhh…” Buffy croaked as she fought to pry his fingers off her neck. ‘Can’t breath…’ Buffy’s vision started to waver as the vampire’s grip tightened around her throat, cutting off her oxygen supply. She started futilely hitting his forearms and kicking him wildly as she fought for her freedom. ‘Oh god…no…’
A few seconds later Buffy dropped down to the ground, coughing and wiping the tears from her eyes as a cloud of dust filled the night sky above her. Looking up she saw a figure outlined by the moonlight through the cloud of vamp dust. She squinted at her shadowed rescuer, gasping to collect her breath as her hand automatically reached forward to take the one outstretched to her. Pulled abruptly to her feet, her eyes opened wide in shock.
“Satsu?!!” Buffy exclaimed in surprise as she massaged her bruised and aching neck. “What are you doing here? I mean…you’re allowed to be here, it’s just why are you not in Tokyo?”
Satsu raised a eyebrow in amusement, replying, “The conference is tomorrow. Or did you forget?”
“Oh, right. So, Giles called you in for his ‘Slayer Leaders of the World Unite’ party, huh?” Buffy asked jokingly, her near-death experience fading away into awkwardness at the prospect of spending the weekend around a former lover. An ex whose former status was a bit too recent for her to have completely adjusted to the “let’s be friends and colleagues” role.
“Yes, ma’am,” Satsu said with a touch of mockery. “I just arrived and thought I might find you out here patrolling. You weren’t trying to avoid me, were you?”
“Avoid? Me?” Buffy stammered as a blush starting creeping up her face. “No, no. No. A world of no. Well…maybe a little.”
A shy smile started to curve Buffy’s lips as she looked into Satsu’s eyes. ‘I really did miss her. Why do relationships have to complicate everything?’ Buffy mused sadly as she remembered the great camaraderie she had felt with Satsu before they had become intimate.
As she raised her hand to touch Satsu’s shoulder fondly, Buffy found herself lifted up from behind and swung around in the air. Breathing in deeply, she was assaulted by the smell of leather, tobacco and a touch of whiskey. 'No, it can't be...' her mind reacted sluggishly as her senses rekindled memories of vicious fights and fucks, mocking insults and gentle words of support, fiery hands and a final declaration. A moment later she found herself tossed down to the ground while Satsu punched her cuddly attacker across his perfectly chiseled cheekbone. Spike deflected the Japanese slayer’s next jab and grabbed her other wrist as she flung her stake down at his chest, using her forward momentum to flip her over to land on the ground beside Buffy.
“None of that now. Only one slayer’s got a free pass to hit yours truly. And that ain’t you,” Spike mocked as he rolled his shoulders back. He finally turned his head to look at Buffy lying back on her elbows staring at him in astonishment.
“Spike?!!” Buffy whispered his name, her eyes wide with shock. “Oh my god, Spike!” She jumped urgently to her feet to embrace him only to pause in disbelief before hesitantly touching his chest. “You’re really here,” she said reverently, her eyes flooded with emotion as she gazed up at him wonderingly. “And alive…er, I mean undead. How? How did this happen?”
Spike looked away from Buffy’s intense, watering eyes and tilted his head as his face took on a sheepish expression. “Was the amulet, love. It released me after Angel got it in the mail. But I was all non-corporeal and couldn’t call or leave LA. And then when I was solid again I thought you were better off not knowing. Can’t top an exit like that, right? But I just missed you so much – ”
A solid right hook cut Spike off mid-ramble and he reeled back clutching his bleeding nose. “You let me think you were dead, you idiot! Dead!!!” Buffy yelled at him, her petite body quivering in hurt and rage as the full magnitude of his insensitivity took hold of her imagination with a vengeance.
Still holding his bloody nose, Spike attempted to quickly apologize to Buffy. “’M sorry, love. Know it was wrong, but I didn’t know what to say and then I found out you were seeing the Immortal and had moved on, so I thought it was best to just let things lie. Better for you and all.”
Satsu raised an amused eyebrow as Buffy lip curled in disgust and annoyance. “Wait – the Immortal? I’m not seeing the Immortal, that wasn’t me. That was never me, Spike. That was a decoy Buffy magicked up to look like me. I’m a wanted woman, ya know, assassins and demons trying to off the Slayer General. What? You thought I’d desert all these girls I turned into slayers so I could run around having fun, sexy time with a playboy Italian? I don’t shirk my duty, you know that better than anyone,” Buffy finished her tirade on a quiet note, shaking her head reproachfully at his illogical presumptions.
Spike stood still for a minute, slowly absorbing everything she said. He blinked and then reflexively asked, “So you’re not seeing anybody then? And more importantly, not seeing the Immortal?”
“No, not the Immortal,” Buffy rolled her eyes as she replied. “But I was seeing somebody. Not that it’s any of your business, you big fat shirty jerk.”
“Oy, I’m not fat!” Spike interjected, offended.
Interrupting this exchange, a small group of townspeople stumbled out of the copse of trees and drunkenly walked past the trio towards the main road into town, laughing and singing at the top of their lungs. Buffy, Satsu and Spike stood frozen, silently watching the revellers leave the woods.
“We should probably go,” Satsu broke the stunned silence. “Giles is expecting us back by now.”
Spike turned to gaze back at the Japanese slayer, taking her measure for a long moment before gesturing up the hill at his parked car. “Let’s say we take this inside then, Lil Haiku. Uh, mind the demon slime in the front seat.”
A few moments later, Buffy and Satsu opened the passenger side door only to grimace as a foul demon odor wafted up from inside the car. They climbed into the back, careful to avoid the green slime oozing over the front seat. Spike turned the ignition and the roadster roared to life. Glancing in the rearview mirror at Buffy, he smiled as he started the trek up the cliff road. ‘I got here first, no competition in sight,’ Spike assured himself as he drove towards Buffy’s new headquarters. A few minutes of silence passed with Spike stealing glances back at Buffy before he worked up the courage to ask her a question.
“So you mean you were seeing somebody then?” he queried.
“I was,” Buffy sighed quietly. “But it’s over now.”
She turned to look at Satsu briefly then gazed out the window at the moonlight shore passing by. An awkward silence filled the car as all three felt the strange vibes from all that was not being said. Uncomfortable, Spike started to fidget with the radio, frustratedly searching for a rock station but getting no reception. Settling for the local pop station, he leaned back into the driver’s seat and looked at the road ahead as the lyrics filled the car:
“I kissed a girl and I liked it, the taste of her cherry chapstick,
I kissed a girl just to try it, I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it.”
Buffy laughed under her breath and turned to give Satsu a secret look of amusement before leaning over to whisper something in the Japanese slayer’s ear. Spike watched her curiously, his ears perking up trying to catch her voice over the chipper pop song. Buffy leaned her body into Satsu’s flirtatiously and turned her head to look into the rearview mirror, giving Spike a view of her eyes though his gaze failed to reflect back at her.
“Spike, about me seeing somebody from before – there’s something you should know,” Buffy smiled seductively, her lower lip pouting as a smirk dimpled her right cheek.
Looking at Buffy with her Cheshire grin, Spike’s mouth quirked to see her acting so flirtatious. “What’s that then? Oh god, it’s not about Captain Cardboard again, is it?” he said half-jokingly.
“Noooo, definitely not Riley,” Buffy drawled playfully, her teasing grin growing even bigger. Tilting her head to the side, Buffy slowly leaned in to gently kiss Satsu’s lips, the soft kiss growing into a passionate lip-lock as Satsu grabbed the back of Buffy’s neck and pulled her in more deeply.
Spike whipped his head around to stare at Buffy kissing this girl he’d never met before, his mouth hanging open. Frozen in shock, he failed to notice the car drift off the road until they crashed through the sign on the side of the road saying “Welcome to Slayer Central.” The noise startled everyone in the car, forcing Buffy and Satsu apart as they giggled at Spike’s overblown reaction.
Shaking his head as he reacquired control of the car, Spike blinked in shock and looked back at the girls thru the rear view mirror. “Oh god that’s the hottest thing ’ve ever seen you do,” he said in wonder. “Can you do it again? Wait, when did this happen?”
Buffy smiled shyly, “It was a little while ago.”
Spike broke eye contact with Buffy as his eyebrows lowered first in contemplation then furrowed into a furious scowl. Suddenly enraged, Spike slammed his hands against the steering wheel repeatedly as he yelled, “Bloody Hell! Stupid bloody buggering ME stuck in Hell during hot-Buffy-on-girl action! This is ALL Angel’s fault!”
Continuing his rant in a mocking voice, “Help me fight evil, Spike, I wanna thumb it to the bloody wankin' Senior Partners to make the world safe for puppies and kittens and rainbows, except all I really bloody did was send us to Hell 'cause I'm bloody stupid and... "
Spike’s voice drifted off as he grumbled curses at Angel under his breath, swinging the black roadster to a stop at the entrance to the slayers’ castle. He stepped out of the car and reached in to help Buffy out of the back seat, letting the seat fall back to hit Satsu in the shoulder.
“Oomph,” Satsu grunted and glared at the bleached vampire. Satsu’s right fist clenched as she reflexively prepared to give the vampire a slayer punch to the solar plexus, only to turn around abruptly at the sound of screeching tires. She watched in surprise as a tall man with dark spiky hair jumped out of a black Plymouth convertible, panting as his long black coat billowed dramatically.
“Buffy,” Angel intoned his greeting as he intensely locked eyes with the blond slayer. Sensing the awkward atmosphere, he broke his gaze from Buffy and noticed the tense body language of the group. “So, what’d I miss?”
Spike tilted his head and looked at Angel in disbelief before tossing up his hands in disgust and walking towards the castle entrance. “Got any blood inside?” he yelled over his shoulder. “’M feeling peckish.”
“Sure, the more the merrier,” Buffy said ironically, shaking her head as she watched her three exes walk ahead of her into her new home. ‘Oh no, my life’s not too complicated.’ She gazed at the open castle doors in trepidation then looked back at the road behind her. “Now what?” she quietly wondered aloud. No one answered.
She felt paralyzed, already choking from the expectations of her three former lovers inside. Each one pulling her in opposite directions, each one demanding her favors merely by being in the here and now. ‘What do I say to them? What do I want?’' The questions spiraled through her unsettled mind. She looked up into the sky, entreating some higher power to enlighten her. Her destiny as the slayer had always been clear to her though she’d tried to deny it, yet in love she remained lost. Her eyes silently asked for a sign from above, something written in the stars that would lead the way. No one answered her call.
Who she was meant to be with wasn’t written in the stars. It wasn’t written at all.