Title: Displacement, Chapter Three
Author: spuffy luvr
Rating: PG13 (for now)
Setting: Post-Series crossover with “S.H.I.E.L.D”
Word Count: ~2300/~30,000
Summary: Spike’s amulet is left to languish at the bottom of the Sunnydale crater, until a S.H.I.E.L.D. team accidentally uncovers it ten years later.
Warnings: Spoilers through mid-S2 of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, as well as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I suspect knowledge of “S.H.I.E.L.D.” will make the story, or at least the initial chapters, far more enjoyable. Temporary Buffy/Other, sort of.
Notes: I’ve borrowed some elements from S8, but this doesn’t follow comics.
“Hey, Spike,” Willow said gently when she noticed him lurking, slump-shouldered, in the corner of the bus’s lab.
He turned to her, his eyes bruised and tired-looking. “Don’t rightly know what happened. One minute I was hoofing it back to town, and the next -” He waved his hand around the room.
“Let me guess – about fifteen minutes ago?”
Spike nodded. “How’d you know?”
“Because that would be about when the plane took off and left L.A. You’re not doomed to haunt a building…” Willow walked over to the lab bench and held up the amulet for him to see. “You’re doomed to haunt this thing. Fitz scanned it when we got back to the plane. It still shows residual energy.”
“And what’s that mean, then?”
“Well…” Willow set the amulet back down and moved closer to Spike, unsure whether she was glad or disappointed that her urge to give him a hug was a moot one. “I thought maybe you were all ghost-y due to being a vampire. Because, you know, you guys always turn to dust right away, and maybe your constituent molecules couldn’t be reconstituted. Your physical form is -” She mimed an explosion of dust. “Paft. Blowing in the wind, a hundred miles and ten years away. But I’m starting to wonder if maybe Jemma’s holograph theory has merit.”
With an exhale of disgust, Spike said, “And now you’re on about that too? Great. I’m doomed.”
“No, no, it makes sense,” Willow said. “It’s like you’re caught inside the amulet, but it’s projecting an image of you out into the world. Your physical form is tied to the gem, somehow. We just have to figure out how to un-tie it.”
“And if we don’t?”
Willow hovered her hand over his arm. It was as close as she could come to a reassuring touch. “We will. But if we don’t… well, I guess you pick where you want to live, and that’s where we take the amulet. You can haunt your city of choice,” she said, and tried for a laugh.
“Right, it’ll make packing a breeze,” Spike said.
“See, silver linings galore!” When he didn’t even pretend to smile, she said, “Too perky?”
Spike pulled his coat tighter. “Guess I can’t see anything but grey skies just yet. Sorry.”
“Any which way, I promise I’ll get you out of here, okay?” Willow said, indicating the lab with a wave of her hand. “These are good people, but after The Initiative, I understand why you’re worried. I won’t leave you to them.”
And maybe he wasn’t completely wrong to be worried. Willow knew Coulson would insist on Indexing Spike. She also knew – after Spike had reminded her of just how little he trusted government entities – how he would react to being Indexed. She’d been through it herself, as had Buffy, but that wouldn’t make him any more likely to cooperate.
“Appreciate it,” Spike said, with a nod.
Willow gave him a small, guilty smile, and told herself that being Indexed was for the greater good. Funny how she’d never thought to question it before. But why was that? She’d been around for The Initiative too. She shouldn’t have forgotten, especially not with how HYDRA had been hiding within SHIELD all along.
The door to the lab whooshed open, and Fitz entered. He noticed Spike, and came to a halt. “Your friend’s back, I see,” he said, not moving any closer. Fitz eyed Spike a moment longer, then said, “I’ve got some theories on how to make Spike solid again, but the equipment I need is back at the base.”
He turned and left, and Willow held back a sigh. Fitz had been quite insistent on knowing just what the man-beast-chimera-thing she called a friend was after Spike had disappeared from the car, but Willow hadn’t told him. How could she? Vampires – they didn’t exist anymore. Hadn’t for years. Fitz and Simmons, babies that they were, had never known a word filled with vampires and demons, and wouldn’t have believed her even if she had told them the truth.
So she’d said Spike’s a hero, and left it at that.
Apparently that wasn’t good enough for Fitz.
“He’s a skittish sort,” Spike said when the door whooshed closed again. “What’s his deal?”
“He’s never seen a vampire. Or even heard of them. Because they -”
Willow paused, stricken. Oh, god. What if we recorporealize Spike, and it kills him?
She hadn’t stopped to consider the consequences. They hadn’t even crossed her mind – it had been so long since Angel’s betrayal that Willow no longer thought about it.
“Because they what?” Spike said, sharp blue eyes focused on her in the way that had always left Willow resisting the urge to squirm like a bug under a magnifying glass back in her younger days.
“Remember when I said a lot of bad had happened? I hope you’re feeling acclimated, because I think now would be a very good time to talk about it.”
Coulson walked up to FitzSimmons, who were so wrapped up watching the tablet in Fitz’s hand, they didn’t notice his approach. “Whatcha doing?” he said.
Fitz jumped, tablet bobbling as he tried to reassert his hold on it. “N-nothing sir. Just, uh, checking on the video feed from the Playground.”
“Something wrong with it?” Coulson leaned in. “Oh,” he said. “That’s Spike, I presume?”
“Yes,” Fitz said. “I know he seems harmless, being incorporeal and all, and I know Willow said he’s a friend, but…”
“Well, there’s something about him, sir,” Simmons said.
“Something not quite right,” Fitz added. He waved his hand in front of his face. “With his face.”
Coulson peered at the screen. “His choice of hairstyle seems… unconventional, but I don’t see anything wrong with his face, exactly.”
“We think he might be gifted,” Simmons said. “Or -”
“Enhanced,” Fitz said. “He’s like this man-lion chimera… thing… With fangs.”
“And a lumpy face.”
“And yellow eyes, don’t forget the eyes. Very frightening.”
Coulson squinted. “It’s hard to tell with the lighting in the room, but I’d have to go with blue.”
“Well, not always. Not right now, obviously,” Fitz said.
“Obviously,” Coulson said.
“It’s just some- Look! There!” Fitz stabbed a finger at the screen. “Look!”
Coulson took the tablet, and looked.
“Man-lion,” Fitz said.
“Or maybe it’s his version of Hulking out,” Simmons said.
“If only we could get a sample of his DNA,” Fitz said. “I bet it’s a fascinating chimera of human and lion, do you think?”
“Nah,” Phil said in his blandest voice. He handed the tablet back to Fitz. “He’s a vampire.”
“A what?” he heard Fitz say to his back as he walked away, at the same time as Simmons said, “I’m sorry, sir, did you say a vampire?”, their voices a chorus of horrified disbelief.
Dropping a bombshell? Never got old. Resisting the urge to whistle, Coulson allowed himself a small smile, and kept on walking.
Spike stared at Willow’s worried face, but he wasn’t really seeing her. He was lost inside his head, seeing the world he’d known, the world he’d walked in for over a century. The world that had always existed, since the dawn of humankind, and now no longer did.
Just like that. Eons of history, wiped out by a single megalomaniac with A Plan.
He stood up and wandered around the conference room, trying to process everything she’d told him over the last few minutes. After insisting on catching him up to speed, now, she’d made a quick call to somebody. Then she’d picked up his amulet and teleported to the SHIELD base, snapping him along with her. Spike supposed that solved the problem of keeping him in the dark about just where he was, precisely. Somewhere underground was all he’d managed to suss out. Probably somewhere in the States, but that was less certain.
After another round of the room, he paused by the faux-window, back to it and hands shoved into his duster pockets, fingers clenching and unclenching without actually grasping any of the items he knew should be in his pockets. He would’ve traded his soul for a fag right about now, or even just the ability to actually smoke one.
“They – they can’t all be gone,” he said hoarsely.
“Sorry, Spike,” Willow said gently. “It’s true. You’re sort of the last of the Mohicans. And the Hurons, and the Iroquois, and the Chippewa too.”
“And the Slayers? With no demons left, what happened to the Slayers?” All those girls he’d defended from the First; all those girls he’d died to save – they couldn’t all be gone too, could they? Willow had said something about Angel using their lives to tip the balance, but he couldn’t have heard her right. Especially not the part about the berk wearing a mask and calling himself Twilight.
Willow shook her head. “It was part of the deal Angel made with the Powers That Be – the Slayers for the demons. The Slayer line is dead.”
Dead. Sweet Jesus.
“And those bastards allowed it? Why?” Spike couldn’t wrap his mind around it. Centuries – millennia – of balance, of good versus evil, eradicated over the space of a few years. “Why now?”
“Because now we have aliens, I guess. We really couldn’t figure it out either. Until the Chitauri attack. Either the Powers got rid of the demons to make way for the aliens, or they knew the aliens were coming and the balance would be shifted too far for humanity to survive, and so they did what they could to right the balance.”
Spike sensed the flaw in the Powers’ plan. “Well, somebody had to fight these aliens – pretty sure Slayers would have fit the bill nicely.”
“Probably. But it turns out we have a whole new group of superheroes to go with the new baddies. They’re called the Avengers. Slayers are… superfluous.”
Slayers superfluous? Angel had finally brought down an apocalypse, and Spike wasn’t too sure who had won. He stared blankly, trying not to think about the implications of Slayers being superfluous. “Not much room for vampires with souls in this brave new world either, I’m guessing.”
“Well, it’s sort of a moot point, because Angel’s dea-” Willow blinked. “Oh. You mean you.” She bit her lip, in the gesture Spike had come to realize over the years meant she had more bad news and was trying to figure out the least painful way of saying it.
“Just spit it out, Red.”
She squared her shoulders, and nodded. “Right. Well. Here’s the thing – I’m sort of afraid that if we bring you back all the way, you’ll die. For good. You’re not supposed to exist, see? If we get your body back, whatever it was Angel did to wipe out the vampires – we never really figured it out – might affect you too. Maybe.”
Spike scrubbed a hand across his eyes. He couldn’t feel it, but it gave him something to do all the same. “So I was better off where I was. Stuck in the amulet, but oblivious.”
“Maybe?” Willow said uncertainly. “I’m really, really sorry,” she rushed on. “I didn’t even think about it, not until after you were out, and then…”
“Too late now.”
“Right.” She bit her lip again. “So, I guess it’s up to you. If we try to recorporealize you.”
He didn’t need to think about it. “An eternity as Casper doesn’t much appeal, love. And besides,” he said with a shrug, “I’ve somehow managed to evade the final curtain call when I expected to go out ten years ago in a flaming blaze of glory. I’ve made my peace with it.”
“Are you sure?”
The Slayer line is dead.
The Slayer –
Spike did his best to give Willow a reassuring smile. “This isn’t my world anymore. Nothing much left in it for me, is there?”
“Well…” She gave him a look he couldn’t quite interpret. “You do still have friends here, you know. People who care about you.”
People who cared about him? Spike doubted it. He’d had no real friends – hadn’t really done anything to earn any over the course of his long and bloody unlife – and the closest thing he had to family had gone to dust years ago, according to Willow (Spike didn’t much want to think about that, either). But even if it was more than pretty words on her part to make him feel better, even if there really was somebody out there who’d be happy to see him back amongst the land of the sort-of-living… it wouldn’t be the one who mattered most.
“Still rather be dust than a spook,” he said. “Who else knows I’m here? Besides your G.I. Juniors?”
“Nobody, yet. I didn’t tell anybody about the amulet in case I couldn’t get you out,” Willow said. “And I haven’t exactly had the time since.”
“Works out well for all of us, then,” Spike said. “If I don’t make it, you’ll be the only one to miss me.”
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/541403.html