Title:Those Were The Days Of Our Lives
Era/season/setting:BtVS season 4/AtS season 1
Rating:NC-17 (for later chapters)
Summary:Spike is prepared to die in the battle behind the Hyperion Hotel. But someone else decides to send him back in time …
Spuffy will happen in later chapters.
Disclaimer:All belongs to JW and ME
He was wondering, who would be most likely to answer the door. Spike had to knock at least five times before he heard footsteps approaching the door. He suddenly hoped they were Cordy’s. She would certainly freak out, but she wouldn’t try to kill him. Unless of course she’d been clever enough to arm herself with a crossbow.
But it wasn’t Cordelia who opened the door and it wasn’t Angel either. It was Wesley and Spike was shocked to look at the man he had said goodbye to less than twelve hours ago. Less then ten hours ago Illyria had reported him to be dead. The eyes that now searched his face enquiringly and without the slightest hint of recognition weren’t the hardened eyes of his mate. And the face wasn’t the haunted and haggard face of the warrior, the wizard, the rogue demon fighter who had ruthlessly fired six shots at a robot he had believed to be his own father, just because said father had threatened to harm the woman he loved. Instead he was looking into the boyish face of a stiff young man, a typical member of the British upper class dressed in a white shirt and an oversized jacket he had by the crinkled look of it been sleeping in.
“I assume there is a valid reason for almost kicking in the door at this time of the night. Can I help you?” Spike swallowed. “Listen Per … Wes … Mr. Wyndam-Pryce?”
“I am afraid I don’t recall your name. Or your face as it is. Have we met before?”
“That is actually the problem I need to talk to you about.”
Wesley raised an eyebrow.
“My name’s Spike and …”
“Sspike?” Wesley used to have this annoying way of saying his name as if he was a lab technician looking at a disgusting and venomous snake. Spike remembered that now and he also remembered that his name was known to the man who had once been not only a watcher but also Buffy’s watcher for all that was worth. Wesley retreated into the office probably to get himself a stake or a crossbow. “Wes,” Spike called after him, “I’ve got Faith in the boot of my car.”
Wesley froze on the spot, then slowly turned around to glance at Spike.
“Are you talking about Faith the Slayer? You seem to have missed an important memo. Faith has been in a coma for these last eight months.”
“Woke up a couple of days ago and looked to wreak havoc. Someone hit her on the head with an axe for me and now she’s securely tied up and probably dying for some air and refreshments.”
“Call the hospital, if you need confirmation. You were her Watcher, you should be able to inquire after her whereabouts. Or, come to that, you can call Giles. If you are still on speaking terms with him that is.”
“Assuming you have been lucky enough to lay your hands on another Slayer – and yes, I am aware of your reputation as the Slayer of Slayers – why come here? Why don’t you just kill her and get a third notch on your belt? Oh wait – there was this tiny little problem with a chip in your head, wasn’t it?”
There was no need to tell Wes about the chip having been gone for more than a year, so Spike shrugged and remained silent.
“What do you want? Why did you bring her here? You cannot seriously think that we will kill her because you are not able to do it yourself?”
“No. Not here for killing a Slayer or having her killed. I want to hand her over to you. You and Angel, that is.”
“She’s fallen off the wagon. That’s just the kind of thing you get all excited about, innit? Reform her, redeem her, polish her halo for her …”
“Why would you be helping with that? What’s in it for you?”
“I have a condition of my own.”
“Ah, why doesn’t that surprise me?”
“Cuz I’m evil?” Spike managed a desultory smirk.
“I’d say that covers a lot of it.”
“I want to strike a deal. I want to trade the dark Slayer for information. For knowledge you might possess or be able to research for me. And I need … advice.”
“Could you be a bit more specific?”
“What do you know about time travel?”
“Are we talking about H.G.Wells here?”
Spike sighed. “No, we are talking about me being stuck in the wrong time period here. And we are talking about me wanting to get back to where I came from. Or when. And I need help to do that.”
“Well, let us just hypothetically assume I am taking you seriously, – you must already have travelled through time to come here. How did you do it?”
Spike looked up at at the sky, still dark, stars almost not visible, as usual. He weighed his options for a moment, trying to make up his mind. Then he turned back to Wes.
“Look. I’m not sure what I’m allowed to tell you. I’m not sure what I should tell you. That is why I need your advice. Everything I tell you about the future could possibly change the future, alter the lines of destiny …”
“… damage the delicate fabric of time.” Wesley was suddenly in full watcher-mode. “You are not mistaken. You should reveal as little information as possible. Yet, if I am to help you, I still need the basics. Maybe there is no need to tell me the exact date, but I need to know if you went back or forth, how long ago it happened, by which means you travelled.”
Spike nodded, “It happened less than ten hours ago. Here in L.A. in an alley behind a Hotel you will probably not know. I’m not sure, what happened exactly. The obvious explanation is, that a demon opened a portal and pushed me through it, but I’m not even a hundred percent sure, that’s what happened.”
“A demon? The only demon species known to be capable of affecting linear time chronology is …”
“… Rwasundi demons. I know. But it wasn’t a Rwasundi demon. Met them before. They mess with your perception of time but they don’t alter your timeline. No, I’m talking about a demon opening a portal. An Old One to be precise.”
Wesley shot him a look, a mixture of incredulity, scientific interest, and curiosity. He paused for a long time, then replied, “It is late. Dawn will be coming soon.”
Spike almost jumped, but realized just in time Wes was talking about the early morning light, not the Slayer’s key-sister.
“I will need to research the matter. It’ll take me at least a day. But I can’t let you walk away with Faith. Especially not, since I have no proof whatsoever, that she is in your hold at all and that she is alive and well.”
“I will deliver Faith to you now and you do your research work. I’ll be back tomorrow after nightfall and we talk. Privately. I don’t want anything of this to get to certain people’s attention. It has to remain confidential between you and me.”
“You don’t want Angel to know about his?”
“Those terms of confidence can only apply as long as I see no harm coming from them. If I should have any reason to suspect that you are playing me or that you are posing a threat to me or to people I know or even to complete strangers, I will not feel obliged to follow your rule.”
“Fair enough. I also need you to vouch for my safety if I come here tomorrow evening. ‘M not keen for Angel to wait for me with a stake in his hands and the desire to kill me in his heart.”
“I’ll talk to Angel. I’m not sure, he will fall in line though. What guarantees do you need for me to provide so you can be sure, I will keep my part of the bargain and research the matter for you?”
“Your word is enough for me.” The hint of a smile appeared on Wesley’s face, “My word as a fired watcher or my word as a freelance vampire hunter?”
“I’ll settle for your word as former head-boy.”
Twenty minutes later Spike arrived back at the alley having delivered a still gagged and tied up, but much calmer, Faith into the care of a stunned Wesley Wyndham-Price. He parked the Jeep behind the Hyperion Hotel and walked to the closest sewer entrance on the main road. A moment later he had opened the lid, lowered himself into the manhole and disappeared into the darkness.
The next evening saw him knocking on the front door of the office again. This time it was opened by Cordelia.
“Spike! Wesley gave us notice you would be coming. Which gives me the opportunity to tell you how much I hate you.”
“Cordy, it’s a pleasure for me as well.”
She turned around, leaving the door open as if expecting him to follow her. Spike cautiously prodded his foot over the threshold half expecting to knock against an invisible barrier. Judging from the look of Wesleys clothes last night he most likely lived in the office. But Spike’s foot crossed the threshold unrestrained. Ah, no invitation needed, then. He followed Cordelia, who had kept on talking.
“… of course expecting you of all people as our guest we have made sure that all our stairs are in perfect condition …”
Huh? Spike started at that.
“… as we wouldn’t want you to impale yourself on a metal pole, would we?”
‘What the hell was she talking about?’ Spike blinked at her back in bewilderment.
They were standing in a small office crammed with a desk, book-shelves, potted plants and visitor chairs. The whole room was hardly the size of Angel’s desk in his office at Wolfram & Hart’s. Cordelia took a seat behind the desk, busying herself with files and note-pads.
Faith, pale but quiet, was sitting on a green sofa. Angel leaned against Cordy’s desk, looking grim. But well, when had he not done that? Now that he thought about it, Spike remembered times where he had been carefree and joyful. But those were times when they had raided a convent or crashed a wedding party. He shuddered at the memory and met Angel’s eyes, feeling the older vampire’s power and a century-old bond pulling at him. Family, brothers in arms, in the end equals, respecting each other for what they were.
Spike turned to Angel. “Did I miss something here? What is she talking about, mate?”
“Wesley will be here any moment,” Angel replied, ignoring his question and dismissing Spike’s attempt at camaraderie. Spike tried to remember what had happened when they had last met in this timeline. Bollocks, that was when he hired Marcus to torture Angel. He could probably not have chosen a more inconvenient time to ask Angel to trust him or to offer him friendship.
Luckily at this moment Wesley appeared from the adjoining kitchen. His face was heavily bruised and one eye blackened.
Spike raised an eyebrow. “Oi, what happened to you then?”
There was an awkward pause for a moment, then Wesley gestured with his hand. “Please come in, we can talk matters privately in here.”
Spike raised an eyebrow again, but walked to the tiny room Wesley had directed him to. Wesley closed the door after them.
“I ask you again. What has happened to you? And don’t tell me you walked into a door or fell down some big stairs.”
Wesley sighed, “Last night, after you left, I untied Faith. That was obviously a mistake, as I now know.”
“I’m surprised you’re still alive and she’s not on the run.”
“I wouldn’t be, and she would, be if it hadn’t been for Angel. He was downstairs briefing a witness for a court hearing today and when he heard me crashing into the elevator door he came to my rescue.”
“So, how come she’s not securely bound now?”
“Angel and Faith had a fight. A quite brutal one. But eventually Faith broke down and Angel somehow got through to her. She’s willing to accept help now.”
“I see. Second chance for those who are willing to redeem themselves and all.”
“Yes. One assumes that rehabilitation is possible, even for those who are … evil …”
Spike shot Wesley a sharp look at that but remained silent. Wesley shrugged and said drily, “I admit not to be happy about Faith being rewarded with freedom and doughnuts for beating me up. But it turns out to be just your luck because Angel conceded to your coming here today as a kind of compensation for my bruised eye.” With a faint smile he added, “And my bruised ego.” After a moment’s consideration he carried on, “I have looked into the fascinating matter you laid before me yesterday night. Let us begin to talk about this demon, who as you have claimed, has opened a portal and by pushing you through it sent you on a time travel.” Spike shifted uneasily in his seat but kept his silence.
“You are probably aware of the fact that Old Ones have not walked this earth since the Primordium Age, which makes it highly unlikely you will have dealt with one of them in the far or near future. Those of the Old Ones who were not killed left this dimension when they lost their claim over the earth.”
Wesley flicked through some notes that were lying on his desk. “Interestingly enough, there exists a cult of vampires that is infamous not only for their rituals and traditions and their strict hierarchy but also for worshipping the Old Ones. I am, of course, talking about the Order of Aurelius. The last known leader of that particular cult, The Master, was trapped in a mystical barrier for sixty years after a failed attempt to open the Hellmouth and release the Old Ones.”
“Is this going to be a lecture on vampire lore?”
“I find it hard to believe that it is a coincidence that you are through your bloodline directly connected to The Master and by that means are his legitimate successor.”
“I am not a member of the Order of Aurelius and never have been. Same as Angel and Drusilla, who are both, I might remind you, through their bloodlines closer connected to The Master than I am and thus supersede any legitimate claim of mine, should I even have one.”
“It would seem as if there is a soul in Angel’s case and insanity in Drusilla’s case, that prevent the two of them taking on their role as leader of the Order of Aurelius.”
Spike shrugged, “What are you trying to tell me? That I brought about the return of the Old Ones or at least one of them all by myself and got kicked in the arse and thrown back in time as a reward?”
“I am trying to make sense of what you are telling me.”
“Listen, I am going to tell you what happened … or … some of it. Yes, the Old One I’m talking about was resurrected by a, sort of, cult of worshippers. But the Order of Aurelius has nothing to do with it. It doesn’t exist anymore, anyway. Not even at this time. The Old One I’m talking about, was murdered by her own kind, just like many of them, who killed themselves in their endless battles and thus freed humankind of their reign. Her body and her essence were trapped in a sarcophagus and buried in the Deeper Well for eons. But she was resurrected. We never found out how it came about precisely but it seemed to have been something predestined and planned by herself before her own death.”
“You are talking of this Old One as if it is a female. As far as we know, Old Ones did not have a gender similar to ours.”
“True. But she … her body wasn’t resurrected. Only her essence. And she used a woman as a shell for her essence. Even used her human form sometimes. Looked like her. It was horrible, but … it is nearly impossible to talk sense into a demon who thinks she is a god.”
“I see. And the woman, whose body she used for her reincarnation?”
A shadow crossed Spike’s face. He paused and looked at his hands, his fingers firmly interlocked to keep them from trembling. He lingered for a moment then continued to speak, “She was gutted from the inside. Her organs were liquefied. Not a nice way to go. Took her a couple of days as well. She kept fighting it, but in the end, we lost her. It was our Kobayashi Maru moment. We all loved her. Tried so hard to save her. But we failed. Failed utterly. After that we kinda lost hope. That was what got us in the mess that ended in the battle during which Blue … the Old One created that portal”.
“And who would be ‘we’?”
“Me and … some mates.”
“And may I assume by your coming to me, that I would be one of those mates, impossible as it is for me to imagine this?”
Spike simply nodded.
“And we fought this demon or Old One in the battle you mentioned?”
“No. We didn’t. She actually fought with us. On our side. Not at first. There was a demon army, sleeping or hidden, waiting for her to return. But by the time she came to raise her army and claim her reign over Earth, they were all gone. Dust in the wind. She was somewhat devastated after that. And lost. She had nowhere to go. Something most of us could relate to. So, she simply … stayed.”
“And joined you in the battle?”
“Yeah. That’s why it’s hard for me to understand why she did what she did to me. Why take me out of the battle? Push me away? Make me abandon my friends?”
“If, as you claim, my future self will be one of those friends you have mentioned it would be safe to say that I will probably be working on a way to bring you back from the other side of the timeline. And considering that this Old One, with the power to open portals, is a friend or at least an ally, the prospects that help from there will be successful are much better than any help I could offer from this end of the timeline.”
The pain was visible on Spike’s face for just a second. Then his expression turned blank again, but Wesley, perceptive as he was, had already caught sight of the change.
“I assume I am dead, then?”
Spike clenched his teeth. Then calmed himself once more, “Look, Wes. It has been no more than 24 hours since I last saw you and you were alive and well then. And that is all you get from me.”
“What about this woman, who was turned into a shell for this Old One. Do I know her?”
Spike offered a faint smile, “What is it going to be? Twenty questions? It’s not one of the women, who are outside in the hall. Nor is it someone you knew back in Sunnydale. Full stop. Now, as for that help you said you could offer for my little problem from this end of the timeline …”
There was an awkward pause. Then Wesley said softly, “I am afraid I can offer no help at all. It’s not in my power nor do I know of anyone who has the power to send you or return you to a different point in space and time. Such a journey is not known of and there exists no written reports that it ever has been accomplished. Not even in myths or legends.”
For a moment Spike closed his eyes at that, feeling the weight of time pressing down on him and drowning him in a sea of hopelessness. When he opened his eyes again, Wesley looked at him, patient and almost compassionate. Spike sighed.
“Okay. Let’s get this over with, then. What am I to do? How many butterflies can I stomp on, before this world shifts off its axis? And how do I avoid those nasty little buggers?”
Wesley shuffled through his papers once more, leaned back into his armchair and began.
“First thing, the Butterfly Effect you are obviously referring to does not mean that a minor change in circumstances can alter history and change destiny. It only means that we shall never know what would have happened if that tiny change hadn’t happened. Or, to stick to your metaphor – there are many butterflies out there. How do you know it was the death of the single butterfly you stomped on that caused the tornado? Maybe it was the survival of its fellow butterfly, on which you did not stomp, that led to the catastrophe.”
“Do be specific. Are you telling me I can do whatever I want cuz nobody could ever prove that it was my particular action that had a particular consequence?”
Wesley sighed. “We are talking ethics 101 here. You could state the same without the implication of time travel and it would not be appropriate from a moral point of view. And I can’t believe I’ m discussing moral standards with a soulless, evil vampire.”
Spike chuckled but waited for Wesley to continue.
“Ever heard of a guy called Gödel?”
“You’re talking about the bloke who was the Austrian version of Einstein?”
Wesley’s eyebrows shot up and Spike smirked at the incredulous look on the former Watcher’s face. “Was this only a rhetorical question? Or was it supposed to be a test? Did I pass?”
“I’m getting the impression that the Watchers’ Council’s reports on William the Bloody might not be quite as accurate as one would wish them to be.”
“Don’t get all worked up about it. I spent a couple of months trapped in a … well, a building. Without being able to sleep. The only person I talked to through those long nights was a girl in a laboratory who was pretty much into physics and stuff.”
“I see. Well, Gödel provided the Gödel metric, an exact solution of Einstein’s field equations. One remarkable feature of Gödel’s universe is that it has a closed timelike curve.”
“Bugger this, did I say I chatted with a bird or did I say I graduated at Princeton? Cuz you surely lost me here.”
“Gödel’s solution to the equations in Einstein’s theory of general relativity include the scientific basis for a possibility of backward time travel.”
“I’m glad to hear that.”
“Unfortunately this possibility is restricted to time travels to the past, which means, again, that there is no way for you to go forward. Other than staying on the linear timeline and living through those years again.”
“Okay, I’m not glad to hear that”.
“Which leads us directly to the subject of consistency paradoxes.”
“Are we talking about butterflies now?”
“We are talking about your grandfather.”
“The best known example for a consistency paradox is you going back in time, killing your own grandfather and by that preventing your own birth. Thus you cannot go back in time and not kill your grandfather. To explain it in a more general way – you travel back in time to kill Hitler and thus prevent WWII. If you succeed, WWII would never have started thus making it completely unnecessary for you to go back in time and kill Hitler. Which is why it has never happened and Hitler was never killed. At least not before WWII.”
“I can see the poetry in that.”
“This problem was solved by a guy named Novikov who very simply stated that the possibility of events that cause time paradoxes is zero. And this leads me directly to the question why you brought Faith here yesterday. It would very much surprise me if you have given a reprise of the events as they have originally unfolded.”
“No. Yes. Not quite … She ended up here the first time around. Different way though. I stumbled into it and got involved before I could think straight. And then I thought it would be best just to follow the way things turned out the first time around.”
“Ah, I see. Novikov’s self-consistency principle seems to have worked.”
“What does that mean for my current situation? It doesn’t matter what I do because the result is pre-destined anyway?
Wesley sighed, “To be quite honest, I don’t know. I have to admit that the acceptance of Novikov’s principle of self-consistency means that it limits the free will of the person involved. You have come here to ask me for information. I have little to offer, I’m afraid. It might be that nothing you are going to do will have any effect on the future. It might be that you already made some radical changes simply by coming here and bringing Faith with you. Which has as you’ve just told me not happened the same way in your past. There is a third possibility. This one involves a question we have not yet discussed. What about your former self? What has happened to him? Has anything happened to him at all? Is it possible he still runs around Sunnydale right now?”
This idea had not in the slightest crossed Spike’s mind before. He was taken aback, surprised. Then he started, “I don’t know … I’m not sure … but I don’t think he’s still there. I might be wrong, but I think I would sense it somehow. And I was thrown back in exactly a place and time I have been before. Therefore I should have been there, both of me. We would have met. If that is possible at all without causing catastrophic turmoil.”
“Again, I don’t know the answer to that. Have you considered,the possibility that only your essence traveled back in time and that you are actually walking around in your former self’s body?”
Spike contemplated the idea for a moment, then shook his head.”No, I’m sure, that’s not what happened. There are some … changes, that are still there.”
‘Like a chip gone and a soul won,’ Spike mused to himself, but aloud he said “I had a sword still in my hands from the combat. I was even still soaking wet because it had been raining heavily. And this leather coat, I had one like this back then but this one is a replica and I know it’s not suddenly the old one again. Besides, I got something in my pocket, a … a keepsake, a memento that doesn’t even exist now.”
“That leaves two options. One is, that you have just annihilated the existence of your former self by arriving here.”
‘Huh,’ Spike thought, ‘I killed myself? Wonder if that counts as a good thing in my book or not.’
“The other option,” Wesley continued, “is that your arrival here is a branch point and that from that moment on two verses exist. One in which you are your former self and one in which you are your future self, who has traveled back in time.”
“I am Schrödinger’s Cat,” Spike said slowly, comprehension beginning to dawn on him. “I exist and at the same time I do not.”
“As I said, it is only an option. Nothing more than one interpretation of many.”
There was another pause.
“You came here not only for information. You told me, you also needed my advice. Based on very little scientific proof my advice would still be to simply follow the events as they have evolved the first time, act accordingly and change nothing if possible.”
“I … I don’t think, I could do that … it would involve too many things I could not do again or could not let happen again …”
“So, what are you going to do?”
“I don’t know. But first of all, I’m going to ask you for yet another favour.”
“If it is in my power to do it and if it does not imply the killing or harming of a sentient being, I will be glad to be of help or assistance.”
Spike responded with a ghost of a smile. “Would it be possible for me to have a shower somewhere in this place? I’ve been through two fights, a poetry slam, an apocalypse, a three hour-long car drive and a kip in the sewers since I last was near any sanitation facilities.”
“You can use the shower in Angel’s apartment. I’ll show you how to get down there and ask Cordy to bring you a couple of towels.”
Originally posted at https://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/674869.html