Hello folks, I guess today is my day. This fic will be posted in installments, with the first going out now. There will be a second section this afternoon and the last one will go up tonight. My family didn’t entirely cooperate with my writing plans, darn ’em, but you will have it all today.
Deep thanks go to my best buds and betas, married_n_mich and spiralleds, who stepped in at the tenth hour to polish this up. Also thanks to enigmaticblues for heading up this community and helping to keep the Spuffy alive (because there can never be too much Spuffy).
This fic is rated PG, for mild language and some fun descriptions of demon gore. Set immediately post-Not Fade Away…
The point of a spear appeared out of his midsection. Bloody hell, that’s what he got for stopping to think. He whirled around to decapitate the beast that had skewered him – or one of its heads, at least. Didn’t really matter, as the pain from losing one of its noggins incapacitated it. He made quick work of the other head just before the wound to his gut commenced screaming its agony to him.
Illyria, harping on the obvious again. “Yeah, that’s right, Blue. We’re all a bit bruised around the edges.”
“I’ll remove the weapon.”
Spike gritted his teeth. True to her word, Illyria yanked the damned thing out of him. The lady didn’t mince anything. In this instance he was grateful.
“You are bleeding too much,” she told him. “You can’t continue.”
“Have no choice, love.” A wave of dizziness hit him. With all that had gone down, he hadn’t had blood in days. Losing all this now was taking a huge toll.
“Can you feed on any of this?” She kicked at some of the bodies surrounding them.
Nausea welled up in his chest. Demons that formerly had two heads never went down well. “Sorry, not really on my menu.” He looked her over quickly. It was hard to tell through all the rain, but she looked to be in pretty good condition. “You holding up all right?”
She moved suddenly, turning her sword in her grip and thrusting her arm back. A demon wailed and fell. “This body wearies. If I were still a god…”
“You’d crumble the lot of them and pour their ashes over our disrespecting carcasses. Heard that before.”
“Perhaps not yours. You provide amusement.”
He pulled his hand away from his midsection. The bleeding had mostly stopped. He straightened, but dizziness overwhelmed him and he staggered. He forced his head up to scan the ongoing battle. Her words not lost on him. It couldn’t be hopeless; he wouldn’t give into that. “Ready, Blue?”
She pulled one of those odd head turns of hers, her vivid eyes clouding in confusion. “You are not ready. Had you been anything but a half-breed you’d be dead.”
He gritted his teeth. “I asked about you. We have more work to do. Best get to doing it.”
“You are deluded.” She pushed him back against the goo-soaked brick wall at the side of the alley. He lost his footing and slid to the ground. “Stay here,” she demanded. “Until you are stronger you are of no value to this fight.”
Fury flashed through him. No use? He’d never be useless – not again. Not after… No. That was another time. He wasn’t going to let anyone down, and he wasn’t going to quit until he was dust, carried away into the sewers by this bloody deluge they had to wage war in. Illyria had killed four more hellbeasts while he’d been slumped against the wall. If he’d been on his feet it would have been eight. He braced his blood covered hands behind him and pushed fully upright. “Sod off, Illyria. I’m going back in,” he yelled.
The wall flexed and seemed to heave. He fell back against it again. “Wha…?” He struggled, but couldn’t get his bearings. The brick were pulling at him. He’d thought the worst of his dizziness had passed, but he couldn’t get any sense of what was happening.
“What the bloody…?”
He fell, hitting the ground with a loud “oomph” and then there was nothing.
A bright light seared into his eyes and he rolled over to shade his exposed skin from the burning sun. He groped for his coat, struggling for several seconds to pull it over his head before he realized that nothing was singeing, or even smoking for that matter. He studied his hands in amazement. Light shone down on him, but he was okay.
He was okay? Where was the battle and all the noise? Where was the blood and the screaming and the endless cold rain?
He was sitting on a large expanse of grass. Sunny, but not really warm. Not cold either, for that matter. It was quiet; not even a bird chirping some revoltingly cheerful bit. He couldn’t be dead, because this sure as hell wasn’t… well, hell. No doubt about it, heaven was no place for his afterlife. Besides, his body was solid enough and his soul was intact. Very well, then – not dead and, surprisingly, not wounded either. His clothes showed marks of the fight, but battle scars on his body were gone, even the worst of them. The disabling wooziness was gone too. No reason to be lying on this sodding ground, was there? He rose and surveyed his surroundings.
There was no sense of where he was. No helpful clues around, either. He studied the horizon, finding nothing but more grass. Sunshine and grass, and beyond that more sunshine and grass. Bloody perfect.
“Hello!” he called. It didn’t surprise him that there was no answer. Would’ve been shocked to have heard an answer anyway, but yelling something seemed to be the thing to do. “Hey,” he tried again, “anyone want to tell me why I’m not burning up here?”
“Because if you were already turning to dust, I wouldn’t have the privilege of killing you.”
That voice. Her voice. Right behind him. This wasn’t possible – none of it. She wouldn’t be here, and she wouldn’t be using that tone with him if she were. He’d always imagined something more intense: anger or tears or a good backhand to his nose. But lighthearted joking about staking him? Not his slayer, not after everything they’d been and done to each other.
“What are you doing here, Spike?”
“Buffy…?” He looked over his shoulder and his vision filled with her. Her hair was light brown, and longer than she usually wore it. Must be all the rage in Italy.
“Look,” she said, “Don’t make me ask you again. You shouldn’t be here.”
He turned to face her, taking her in, every inch. Somehow he never thought he’d ever really see her again, much less be alone with her and looking into her eyes like this. “Buffy,” he said again.
She frowned. “What’s up with you, Spike? Where’d you come from?”
He could barely find his voice. Not a problem he was familiar with. “Alley,” he finally managed.
“Yeah, helpful. Way helpful.” She rolled her eyes at him and something inside him melted. She hadn’t done that in years. “What’s wrong with you? You usually won’t shut up.” After a second she gave a small laugh. “I can’t believe I’m complaining because you’re actually quiet for a change.”
His hands opened and clenched, wanting to touch her, but unsure of what either of them would do. Nothing made sense. “Where are we?”
“Where?” She stepped back, troubled. “I… I don’t know. Just here.”
“Did you bring me here?” he asked.
Now she laughed. “Why would I do that?”
Impatience was proving to be a marvelous antidote for all the other things he was feeling. “Look, Slayer. I wasn’t here, and now I am and I sure as hell had nothing to do with it. There’s a place I need to be now – people relying on me, you know?”
She shook her head. “Sorry, Spike. I really can’t help you.”
This was just brilliant.
“Where is everyone?” she asked. “Where are Giles and Willow and Xander?” She swallowed hard. “Where’s Dawn?”
“Different places, from what I hear,” Spike said. “But you know that.”
“No. No, I don’t.”
Nothing about this made any sense to him, and it was pissing him off. “What’s going on here, Buffy?” He reached out, but she flinched away from him. That did nothing for his mood. This meeting with her wasn’t what he’d expected. All those times he’d thought about seeing her again, holding her, telling her all the things that had happened. The times he’d dreamt of loving her and fighting her… And all they could manage was this confusing mess of a conversation. The ridiculous cookie dough blather that Angel had related to him on their flight to Italy seemed like an in-depth exchange by comparison.
“Buffy, please just tell me where we are.”
“I don’t know.” Simple words, but true. Her eyes were clear. She wasn’t keeping anything from him.
“How long have you been here?” he asked.
“It’s hard to tell,” she answered. “A lot of it is foggy.” She looked around at the endless prairie. “I don’t remember much. I was with everyone, and then I wasn’t.”
Something he could relate to. “Me too, love, except it’s clear. I was fighting with–” No need to bring up Angel’s name at this point. “… on the side of good I might say, and then here I was, little vamp on the prairie.”
“You were hurt,” she said, indicating the tears in his shirt.
He nodded. “Yeah.”
“I wasn’t hurt,” she said. She searched his face. “But I’m pretty sure I died.”
“Where did he go?” Angel glared down at Illyria, who had just dropped the bomb that Spike had vanished during the battle. They had survived, with the help of some old allies who had stepped up in the late hours to lend a hand. Not all the clients he’d helped over the years had turned against him. Gunn was gone, and he wasn’t ready to dwell on that just yet. Spike couldn’t be gone too. “Where?”
She crossed her arms and pulled her spine straight.
“Illyria,” he warned.
“Why must half-demons of your ilk have things explained twice? You waste my time.”
He resisted the urge to strangle her skinny blue neck. He was probably too tired to lift his hands that high anyway. “Look, it’s nearly daylight and we need to find someplace to hole up until the next wave attacks. And we need Spike.”
“He leaned against the wall and he was gone.”
He was afraid to ask, but he had to, “Was he staked?” Maybe words of one syllable would break through her shell.
“Gone,” she said.
“Damn it!” He punched the wall. It hurt.
She turned her back to him and strode away. “I did not say he was dead.”
Buffy had become so accustomed to being alone that the identity of the man on the ground didn’t immediately register with her. But there was a lot that wasn’t clear to her now. She’d grown to accept it over all the time she’d been here. Months? Years? It hardly seemed to matter. The bright hair captured her attention, as did its contrast with the long black coat.
Spike. Of all people why did it have to be Spike? While a lot of the details of her previous life were unfocused, she still had vivid recollections of the people who’d been a part of it once upon a time, even him.
Since she’d come here her only goal had been to find her mother. She was dead, right? And so was her mom. So maybe they were there together and they just had to find each other. Like a final test or something. And that had to be why it was so bright all the time, to help them see. But Spike? That was wrong. He didn’t have a place here. She was supposed to find Mom, not him.
Their conversation was idiotic. He was keeping something from her. He’d probably been in league with the Big Bad all along, when she’d thought she could trust him. Why else would he be in this place? It was a special place, with no noise or fighting or people asking her to save them from whatever monster was tearing up their lives that week. But here he was, embodiment of fangs and fists and never-ending sarcasm.
They talked about nothing. It was pointless to stand here and do this. He was torn up, probably from the same battle that sent her to this place. She never thought about what might have happened to him. But he had no soul, and this was the place for souls.
She tried to tell him. “I wasn’t hurt,” she said. She searched his face. “But I’m pretty sure I died.”
His eyes widened. “When? When did you die?”
She looked at him in disbelief. “You were there.” She paused, thinking hard. “I thought you were there.”
“No, Buffy. Not again.”
Once more he reached out for her and she shoved him away. Why did he keep trying to touch her? He was a liar! If she could only concentrate – think hard about the end. Darkness. Panic. Dawn. Dawn was there, standing terrified in the wind and bleeding. Spike was supposed to…
“You were there!” she accused him. “You were supposed to stop it, stop him from cutting her.”
“Love, what are you talking about?”
“You didn’t stop him and it was too late to keep it from happening.”
“Do you mean Doc? That little git with Glory?”
It felt like he’d stuck her as the memory returned. How could she have forgotten how it ended? The pain poured over her and she turned and ran from him. She ran across the flat expanse of green, not stopping until it felt like her heart would explode. She fell in a heap and grasped at the blades of grass, wondering if she could dig down into the dark earth beneath them to escape these memories.
She wanted her mom.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/225799.html