So I lied and there will be four parts instead of three. It’s just the way the chapters are falling, so you’ll all have to deal with it. I promise that Part 4 will be up later tonight.
“You are pathetic. This is a simple portal that a child could open.”
Angel wondered why ex-gods always had to be such pains in the asses. He dropped his hands from their place on the wall and sighed. Loudly. “What do you suggest now, Illyria? I don’t see you making a bit of difference here.” The mage continued working on the problem at hand. His patience was amazing. Angel intended to grill him on his meditation technique if the ever got out of this.
“I was not asked to aid you, I was ordered,” Illyria replied.
“No,” Angel said. “I asked if you could help, and what does that have to do with getting this portal open anyway?”
She stared at him, unblinking. “You said, ‘Illyria, get over there and help the mage with the wall.’ Does that indicate asking to you?”
“Fine. I’ll ask. Illyria, will you help us to get this portal open?”
Her head cocked to the side again. He hated when she did that. “Your request was not sincere.”
“What does it take?” he asked.
“She is correct,” the mage offered. “The problem is that we don’t have a sincere request.”
Why did he feel like they were ganging up on him? “Okay, good. I’ll request sincerely. Illyria. Please. I need your help. Help me.”
She moved away to stand beside the mage. Angel took up a position on the other side and resumed his previous stance, with his palms flat against the bricks. “Now what?” he asked. “And it better not require chanting.”
“We ask,” said the mage, in a tone that suggested Angel should have known that asking was a logical procedure when trying to get a wall open.
“I feel like an idiot,” Angel said. “Not one remark, either of you!” he warned.
The mage hummed, a low tone emanating from his throat. Illyria said, “Hear our petition,” still managing to sound imperious.
Angel closed his eyes and tried to focus on being sincere. “Please,” he said. “Please open and bring us Spike.”
The wall flexed and shifted. Then it groaned.
They walked. They always walked. Not a lot else to do here. Walking, sitting, walking again. That was about it. Oh, but then there was the talking, which was the best part, and it was something that Spike had never managed to get Buffy to do until this place. They spent days talking about anything that came to mind. They argued and they laughed and they debated with each other. Spike almost thought nothing of it when Buffy slid her hand into his. And he nearly forgot about all the things that he hadn’t told her.
He tensed, and she noticed immediately, looking up at him with the question in her eyes. This was hard. Not telling her what was really going on. For all she knew, this was her eternity and her reward, and he couldn’t bear the thought of stealing that away from her.
“God, what is it with you?” she said, dropping his hand and crossing her arms. It was a classic Buffy stance, and it made him want to hold her.
“Don’t know what you’re going on about,” he said. She didn’t buy that for a second. He really hadn’t thought she would.
“I’m so tired of all your secrets! Why won’t you talk to me?”
He tried to reason with her, but he was having a hard time convincing himself. “Love, I can’t. There are things that you can’t know.”
“But you can?” she responded. “How can I understand that? You… you’re a vampire. You’re a thing, but you get to decide what’s best for me to know?”
Pain ripped through him at her words. The same words she used to throw at him when she was full of self-loathing and despair. Words she didn’t even know she would throw at him after she was pulled out of this place.
“Spike, I’m sorry,” she said, reaching out to him.
“‘S’all right,” he said. “Had it coming.”
“You didn’t.” She lowered her head, but then looked back up at him. “You really didn’t. You’ve been so great here.” She put her hand into his again. “I’m glad you’re here.”
He struggled with himself. There was so much that he wanted to explain. The knowledge that he had to do the right thing was at war with what he really wanted. As usual, the latter was winning. “I need to tell you something,” he said.
“It’s about my soul, and why I got it, and probably why I’m here.”
She studied him, not responding for a long time. Finally, she took a deep breath. “Go on. It’s all right.”
He took her other hand. “It was for you, and only for you,” he said.
“I don’t understand,” she told him. “I died, so why would you do that?”
He let go of her hand and raised his fingers to her face. Strange how they could be in this place of death, yet feel so alive. “Because I needed to be a man, and you made me see that.”
He’d told her the truth, and she seemed to realize it. She folded herself into his arms and didn’t pull away as he rained soft kisses into her hair and across her forehead. Her nose was there, begging for the same treatment, as were her cheeks and her chin and her sweet, welcoming lips. Everything he’d always wanted from her was there in that moment.
And then the world flexed and seemed to heave, and he fell back.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/226416.html