Rating: overall R/NC17
Summary: Post Just Rewards fic, Buffy hears Spike is back and comes to LA to see him.
Notes: I’ll post the 5 parts in two separate posts. And before i do, i’ve got to give big thanks to just_kumi for an initial look through it and kantayra for cutting my wordiness to a minimum.
Hope you enjoy :)
The first step was easier than anything Buffy had ever done.
All it had taken was a phone call from Giles in London. He had contacted Wesley to invite him to join them – as well as to ask him what he thought he was doing, working for an evil law firm. Buffy strongly suspected Wesley had not signed on; Giles would have mentioned it if he had. What she did know, because it had been why Giles had called her, was that Spike was alive. Or at least, he was back. Giles had said something rather nonsensical about burning and ghosts, but she hadn’t really listened, her mind still stuck on three words.
Spike was back.
She was so going to kick his ass.
She had a hundred reasons to do so. No, a thousand. As many reasons as minutes that had passed since she had run out of the collapsing Hellmouth. As many reasons as miles she had put between herself and the crater.
As many reasons as tears she had shed.
She had smiled, at first and meant it. She had survived. Her sister, her best friends, her Watcher had survived. And so many of the girls… each life, a cause for more smiles. Grief had caught up with her three nights after they had driven away from Sunnydale. In an empty, bland hotel room, with the first bit of privacy she had had in what had felt like years, reality had crashed down on her.
Spike had died because of her, because he had loved her. And he had never even believed himself loved in return. She would never be able to tell him, never be able to express words and emotions that she could barely whisper in the silence of her own mind.
Now, he was back.
She internally raged against the slowness of her flight, but she never questioned how or even why he had survived. She had sent a lover to hell, once, and gotten him back. She had been gifted with a sister, created from a few drops of blood. She herself had been brought back from the dead. It didn’t seem so extraordinary that Spike had returned. In any case, there would be time for explanations later. As soon as she had kicked Spike’s ass across Los Angeles. Hell, across the whole state of California.
She took a cab from the airport to downtown LA, rubbing her damp palms over her jeans the whole time, wishing she had the patience to stop at a hotel, freshen herself up. Maybe change, put on some make-up. After she’d cried for a bit.
The office building seemed immense, and a shiver ran down her spine as she approached it. She knew where this firm stood on the big good-versus-evil chessboard. She still couldn’t puzzle out why Angel was here, but that wasn’t why she had come. She would have been glad to see Spike without coming to Angel. After all, she had given him hope that night in the cemetery, and she wasn’t too sure anymore why she had.
“Buffy? Oh. My. God!”
So much for stealth… Buffy had just come out of the elevator when she heard her name practically shouted through the lobby. The shrill voice was all too easy to identify, and Buffy cringed even as she stared in surprise. Harmony was behind the receptionist’s desk. Harmony. Definitely not someone she wanted to see. And next to her stood Wesley and Angel. Not what she had come for, but she strode toward them nonetheless. They both seemed rather stunned to see her.
“I’m not going to ask why you’re working with Harmony,” she told the both of them without preamble. “Who, by the way, was trying to kill me last time I saw her. And I’m not going to ask why you sold your souls to the devil, or whether you did that for real or just metaphorically…”
“Hello Buffy,” Angel interrupted her very calmly. “Would you like to step into my office before you become more of a spectacle?”
Looking around, she found that all eyes, human and demon alike, were on her. She shivered, goosebumps running down her spine, and nodded curtly before following Angel.
Wesley closed the door behind her and asked, “I take it you talked to Giles?”
Before she could reply, Angel shot him an icy look. “Giles?”
“He called me, a couple of days ago,” Wesley replied serenely.
“And you told him about…” He cut himself short and looked back at Buffy, concerned.
Crossing her arms, she met his gaze steadily. “Yes, Wes told Giles, and Giles told me. Where is he?”
Angel’s gaze darkened before he turned his back on her and walked away. “What about baking times and cookie dough,” he muttered almost inaudibly before leaning against the edge of the heavy desk.
“Cookie dough?” Wesley repeated, sounding confused.
Angel’s gaze shifted toward him. “Why don’t you try to find Spike, Wes? And I’ll fill Buffy in on his…condition.”
Buffy’s heart jumped inside her chest and she didn’t wait for Wesley’s departure. “What condition? Was he hurt? Did…”
“I can’t believe you came all the way from Europe to see him,” Angel interrupted her. “You didn’t even stop after your battle. Do you have any idea how worried I was?”
“I called,” she defended herself, chin raised high. “And excuse me for not wanting to step into the lion’s den after having dealt with a Hellmouth. What are you doing here anyway?”
“You said you weren’t going to ask,” he threw her own words back at her. “But then, you also said something about not being ready to be with anyone, and here you are running back to Casper like he’s the love of your life or something.”
Suppressing a sigh, Buffy didn’t point out that he sounded like a jealous teenager. Instead, she tried to control her voice and remain calm. Whatever Angel thought he was doing here, Buffy had not come to LA to hurt him, and part of her was truly sorry that she would.
“I thought I was about to die,” she explained quietly. “Those last few days before the battle were…intense, so you’ll have to forgive me if my words went beyond what I meant. I never wanted to hurt you.”
She expected an answer. But, instead, his eyes moved to look behind her. She hadn’t heard the door open, but she turned nonetheless and was struck speechless when she saw Spike, only a few feet behind her. He looked exactly the same as when she had left him to certain death, but he had never seemed as utterly immobile as he did now. The look on his face, however, she knew all too well: pure grief. Too late, she realized he must have heard what she had been telling Angel; and with her luck, he had thought it applied to her last words to him too.
“Heard a rumor there’s a Slayer in the house,” he said, his features smoothing over until Buffy couldn’t read any emotions on them anymore.
“There’s one,” Angel replied just as tonelessly.
Standing between the two of them, Buffy had never felt so awkward. She wanted to talk to Spike, needed it, at that instant, as much as she needed to breathe, but she couldn’t with Angel standing there.
“Would you mind giving us a minute, Angel?”
Her eyes never left Spike, and she could see the tension mounting in his body at her words; she could see, also, Angel’s own stiff back as he walked by her, and hear his muttered, slightly childish protest that it was his office. The door banging shut seemed to push her into motion, and in three strides, she joined Spike, smiling even as her eyes prickled with tears.
“I’m so glad you’re back!”
He started shaking his head, but she ignored his protest and threw her arms around him.
They closed around thin air.
Taking a step to the side, Spike gave her a lopsided smile. “The big brooder didn’t tell you, did he? Didn’t expect him to. Didn’t expect him to tell you I was here at all, to tell the truth.”
“He didn’t,” Buffy answered absently, and tentatively reached out with her right hand. It slid right through Spike’s arm.
“So, you came here to see him?”
His voice seemed colder suddenly, and Buffy met his gaze before she spoke.
“I came to see you.”
Something seemed to spark in his eyes, but it died with a self-deprecating smirk as he spread his arms.
“See me? Hey, look all you want, luv, ‘cause there’s definitely no touching on the menu.” He let out a quiet snort. “And no seeing, sometimes, too. I tend to disappear without warning.”
He had only said a few words, and already Buffy had a hundred questions, but there was something more important given that Spike had probably heard her conversation with Angel.
“Listen, the reason I came…” Why were the words so hard, suddenly? Why was her voice trembling? Damn, but it would have helped simply to hold on to him, to just feel him there.
“It’s just nice you did,” he murmured when she hadn’t spoken for a long while. “Whatever your reason. Didn’t think I’d ever see you again.”
These few words seemed to loosen something inside Buffy’s chest.
“I didn’t think I’d ever see you again either,” she replied, swallowing a sigh. “But what I said, in the cave, before…”
But it was too late; Spike faded to nothing in front of her. She stared at the spot where he had disappeared, almost expecting him to come back, but she remained alone until a soft knock on the door startled her. She turned just in time to see Angel enter and look around the room.
“He does that all the time,” he said with a shrug. “He’ll be back.”
There was a hint of resignation in his voice, and if she hadn’t been so worried about Spike, Buffy might have wondered about it.
Another shrug. “It’s rather random. No way to tell, really. Not that I’ve been keeping track.”
She waited an hour, but exhaustion finally took its toll on her. Obtaining Angel’s promise that he’d call her cell as soon as Spike reappeared, she went in search of a hotel, hugging herself as she left the building.
When Buffy was lucky, Spike would be around when she visited Wolfram & Hart and they’d spend some time talking. They sometimes disagreed, as they talked of anything and everything, from Dawn’s interest in magic to the fiasco that had been their relationship. But for the first time in the six years they had known each other, disagreeing didn’t end with blows. Some of these most heated talks left both of them raw and aching, and maybe a touch would have helped, then, yet Buffy could recognize how much they were gaining by having to remain on a purely verbal level.
But more and more often, she wasn’t so lucky as to find him waiting for her when she arrived at the firm. At first, she had believed Spike’s claim that his bouts of disappearance were nothing to worry about. But as they became more frequent, she did worry; and she noticed she wasn’t the only one.
Fred was a little reluctant to talk to her about it at first, but once Buffy made it clear that she needed to know, Fred told her about Spike’s confession. It hurt a little that he hadn’t trusted her with something so important, the way he had trusted Fred. It only proved, if need be, that words had not fixed everything.
He had asked her what she expected from him during their most recent talk, and she had answered that she had come to find the friend she had never allowed herself to have. Neither of them seemed to believe that.
But what could she say? That she had seen the errors of her ways? That she was ready to forgive and move on, if he would only do the same? They had started something, back in Sunnydale, in those last few days, and she could admit that her heart wouldn’t have beaten so wildly all the way from Rome if all she had wanted to do had been to see a friend.
A knock on the door in the middle of the morning startled her; no one knew where she was exactly, save for Spike. She opened the door, thinking it had to be a mistake, and froze when she discovered a grinning Spike.
She started to reach out toward him, but the grin took a bitter edge as he shook his head.
“Still a spook,” he said. “Just learned a few tricks.”
She let him in and he soon had explained everything; the monster that had haunted the firm and played with him, and Fred’s attempt at giving him his body back. Despite her best efforts, Buffy couldn’t prevent the tears from rising to her eyes.
“Hey, none of that, now,” Spike chided her.
She watched, fascinated, as he slowly brought a finger to her face, his brow furrowed in concentration, until he touched the tear that had rolled down her cheek. She shivered. Instinctively, she raised her hand to grab his, and he pulled away as her fingers met nothing but air.
“I wish I had been there,” she said wistfully. “I could have helped maybe. And maybe you’d be…”
“Shh… Maybe’s don’t help. Fred will find a way. She’s a clever bird. And in the meantime…”
Again, his features tensed as he focused, and she dropped her gaze from his face to his hand, slowly advancing toward hers. Without thinking, she raised it, palm turned toward him, and saw him falter as his eyes sought hers, recognition evident in their depths.
“I meant it, you know,” she said, unable to speak above a whisper. She hadn’t planned to say it like this, so abruptly. But as his hand slowly connected with hers, as their fingers easily fell into place and clasped together, she could almost feel the fire again, and it was burning as molten lava in his voice when he answered.
Then, oh so quietly, he added, “I knew.”
Something loosened in Buffy’s chest, a knot of pain she had learned to live with since the Hellmouth had collapsed. She didn’t ask why he had denied her words then. She could guess his reasons. But to know that he had believed in her love when he had died meant the world to her. And it was easier, suddenly, to tell him as much.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/21228.html