Title: For Good
Summary: Andrew never was good at keeping secrets. When he lets slip Spike’s little secret, Buffy decides she’s had enough of the running away, insecure, vampire-with-a-soul crap. She’s bound and determined to go to L.A and shake things up just a bit. [Post-Damage, spoilers through You’re Welcome, AU AtS S5]
A/N: This is a multi-chaptered fic I started. Although I’m not sure if I’ll have it all done in time for later tonight, I am trying. It’s not an epic undertaking, but it’s definitely got its layers. Hope you guys like this!
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An interesting fact that Buffy has come to realize: Andrew is a very, very bad liar. He is prone to getting all twitchy and yammery, face red and eyes slitted so narrow he looks as blind as a newborn kitten. About as pathetic, too.
Sometimes his voice even cracks, and then he gets tight-lipped and will only say ‘his therapist does not condone brute force in the journey for self-truth. His ‘iron-clad will, much like the indestructible strength of Wolverine’s epic adamantium skeletal stucture,’ will not be broken. But all it takes is a good noogie to get him singing like a bird.
Buffy is beginning to suspect, however, that because of all the unsupervised time they give him in his fantasyland of a brain, Andrew is starting to do bad things. Like lie.
The thing is–well, Buffy? She doesn’t like it when people do bad things.
And Andrew mostly does good things now. He knows what happens to people who do bad things, like start an apocalypse, or, say, steal the last cookie from the secret stash Dawn hides in her underwear drawer. They get Punished. (Hadn’t even Willow found out the hard way that the Summers sisters mean Capital-Letter business when it comes to their cookies? And apocalypses, too, of course.)
Buffy also knows Andrew realizes, first and foremost, that he is dispensible, and while they may not kill him, the Scooby Gang would probably not hesitate in kicking him to the curb like the goob he is, should the need arise. He is just that shady. And annoying. Watching television at all hours of the night, intruding in personal lives in his extremely embarassing fashion, making everything just some huge melodramatic comic book-slash-movie-slash-epic-thing— and God, why is he still living with her again?
Buffy shakes her head.
A more pressing question is this: why the hell is Mr. Retardo strutting like he owns the tiny little flat he so cleverly infested weeks ago by whining until the only way to shut him up was to give him the couch? What is it that makes him munch away at Buffy’s Oreos, a maniacal glint in his beady little eyes? Buffy can’t even bring herself to kick his ass; it would be too much like kicking a puppy. So she settles on raising an eyebrow as Dawn folds her arms. The Summers tag-team, but golly gee, for once, even Andrew isn’t biting. Usually by this juncture in the game, the blabbermouth would be blabbing all his blab and then some. But now…
What does he know?
It totally does not help that he’s just gotten back from that re-con mission Giles sent him on. In LA. Where a (she hesitates to say evil, exactly) severely morally ambiguous Angel works at an Apocalypse-happy law firm. Where words and gestures and shouty things had inevitably happened. Where Andrew had handled a crazy Slayer and had somehow lived to tell about it. Buffy is all kinds of curious, George, and she wants answers.
“‘Had to get the boy out and about’,” Buffy fumes silently, mocking the defensive tone Giles had taken when she’d sent that ballistic phone call his way. “‘Had to make him think he was helping, or he’d just slip back to the old ways.’ Well, good! Slip away, ’cause then I get to kill him.”
A loud crunching sound and Dawn’s helpless whimper brings Buffy back from the red haze of unreasonableness.
“Andrew.” Buffy’s voice finally cuts through the air, and everyone can tell she is pissed. Dawn’s eyebrow’s knit together and she shifts, her lips quirking in that smirky way that says, ‘My sister could so beat you up.’
“Buongiornio, Buffy,” Andrew says cordially, his lips coated with the fine, gritty brown dust of Oreo. Buffy closes her eyes. Oreos are her favorite. She’s fought evil for what, almost a decade now? All she wants is a stupid Oreo. Instead, she has stupid Andrew in her stupid Italian kitchen that she hates because it is stupid Italy and is supposed to be wonderful, but she hates it because she misses ice in her drinks and supermarkets that are open twenty-four hours and a language she actually has some semblance of a command over. Stupid Rome.
“Buffy? Che cosa fai? I’m sort of occupato right now, ‘kay?” Andrew waves a hand in Buffy’s face and her eyes narrow.
“I am so not in a multilingual mood right now,” she warns dangerously, advancing. “I can feel the stench of secrets radiating off your body like an evil, smelly thing. Stop looking like the cat with the canary and tell us what’s the what.”
Dawn nods vigorously. “Or,” she starts, “Buffy could, you know, make you cough up that ‘canary’. Unpleasantly. By forcing it out of your mouth–bodily–and, uh–” she breaks off uncertainly. “I don’t think I did very well with your analogy,” she says apolegetically.
Buffy pats her arm reassuringly before turning to Andrew and cocking her head expectantly. “The point is, and I cannot emphasize this enough, Andy: well?”
Buffy knows she’s being crazy. It’s just an Oreo. And Andrew isn’t really that bad, she tolerates him pretty well when she can ignore the incessant chatter and disturbing tendency to rifle through women’s underwear. He’s like their own little mascot. Plus, he’s suprisingly good with the strategy (a fact Xander credits to long hours in the company of the love of both their lives, Dungeons & Dragons) and that’s endeared him well enough to the Watcher’s Council. But Buffy senses something about Andrew tonight, an energy and light that had been absent in his eyes since the battle at the Hellmouth. She knows half of it is the glow of actually getting to play tough-guy and stomp all over Angel’s credibility like some sort of, well, tough-guy, but the other half is something that tickles her Slayer sense and screams, “Sit down! Big news! Sit down, I said, all right, don’t listen, but when your legs give out, don’t say I didn’t warn you!”
Buffy nudges a chair over and takes a breath. “Who’s dead, dying, evil, or dating someone new even though they said their love was forever and he’d wait until I stopped baking, but I always knew he lied, because it was something in the way he wrinkled his forehead and oh, my God, just tell me right now before I keep on saying words!”
Andrew has stopped chewing. “Oh,” he says, blinking. “It wasn’t anything dark or brooding. That means it wasn’t anything that had something to do with your dangerous and intense ex-boyfriend and your tragic past together, which is reminiscent of the doomed lovers in Romeo plus Juliet, and you know that’s funny because both you and Claire are blondes and Angel’s got that whole washed-up, used-to-be cool thing that Leo so unfairly suffers from, because you know, I still think he’s cool, just not as cool as Sp–” Andrew blinks again. “You know,” he laughed nervously, “Angel was a little strange about my position of authority. Especially after I told him you didn’t trust him any more and I was your second-hand man–”
“Oh, just save it,” Dawn pipes up. Buffy turns to look at her sharply, wondering what she’s doing. Dawn just gives a tiny wink. Buffy sits back and tries to calm down–Dawn usually knows just how to rile Andrew up and get her way. After all, it is her underwear drawer that he always paws through. If Buffy didn’t already have her suspicions regarding Andrew’s sexuality, she’d say he has a crush on her little sister. But it’s probably just that Andrew has a crush on every living thing on the planet. She gives a little moue of introspection as she waits to see how Dawn will play this out.
“We don’t wanna know anything.”
Buffy gives a look of disbelief but Dawn continues to speak.
“I bet you saw something you think was ultra-cool that would make us ultra-jealous and make you ultra-respected in a way you so are not right now,” Dawn plows on, shrugging. “But it’s probably just something totally lame, like a vampire or something. And so, we don’t care.” Dawn gives a beautific smile and then reaches for the uneaten Oreo in Andrew’s hand. “Hear that?” she asks, chewing away. “We don’t care.” She gestures to Buffy. “Com’n, Buff. Let’s go not care someplace else. Away from Mr. Zipper-lips.”
Buffy is about to dig in her heels and accidentally throw something at Dawn for ruining what had been a very threatening, but productive, line of questioning, when Andrew gives a dramatic sigh.
“All right,” he starts reluctantly. “I’ll tell you, but only because your forbidden love cries out its siren song to me. And also, I just want him to be happy.” Buffy is alarmed to see a shiny film of tears begin to gather in Andrew’s eyes, and she scrambles to stop them. Grabbing the last Oreo, she hands it to him and pats his shoulder.
“Hey, now,” she says desperately. “Stop crying. Please?” A feeling of dread sweeps over her, the same familiar feeling that has a nasty way of creeping up on her when her brain does that annoying thing called ‘putting two and two together.’
“I’m sorry,” Andrew hiccups. “It’s just, a very emotional time in my life right now, and surprises like this are climactic to the point of eclipsing even Darth Vader’s momentous confession of parenthood in Episode Five, when the empire striketh back. I mean, we thought he was dead. Kaput. Finito. No more rides on the back of awesome motorcycles, no more manly repartee…he was really gone.” Andrew takes a deep breath and smiles brightly. “Except he’s not gone. He’s alive, Igor, alliiivvee–”
“Andrew.” Buffy’s voice is low and deadly. Her hand (of its own volition of course) has shot out and grabbed the material of Andrew’s shirt. The squirrely little man is now a foot off the floor and getting bluer by the second. “I’m pretty good at the patience thing, usually. But right now I’m hungry, I’m tired, I’m angry, and okay, I’m a little bit apprehensive about what you’re trying to tell me. Oh, who am I kidding? I am of the suck when it comes to waiting. I don’t like senses of foreboding. They make me go all itchy. So, Andrew. Tell me what I want to know without waxing poetic. Or I’m gonna wax the floor with your shaggy head.”
“Okay! Okay, I did see a vampyre. A vampyre of particular interest to you, kind but fearsome lady.” Andrew pauses dramatically, relishing the roll of the ‘r’ as he closes his eyes in delight. A piece of cream sticks to his lip and Buffy’s eye twitches. Oreos and secrets and just get the hell on with it already, superfreak! “A vampyre with a soul, reborn as a champion of what’s right, although sometime he can get a little scary but I know it’s just his defense mechanisms kicking in and keeping him away from the general populace–”
“Not explaining nearly fast enough–” Buffy’s arm is pulling back to hike him up just a little higher when she feels a small, cool hand wrap around her wrist.
“Buffy. Buffy, stop.” The voice is soothing. “Buff. He can’t talk with your fingers all clawing at his throat.”
“Oh. Good,” Buffy whisperes wildly. “Oh, god, good, because I think I know what he’s going to say, Dawn.” With a dull thud, Andrew falls to the floor as Buffy’s hand drops. Her legs are shaking as she turns and starts to pace frantically.
“Did I mention I don’t do well with hope?” she asks. “In fact, Giles likes to tell me I’m hopeless. All the time. So, I don’t like it when I know someone’s dead and someone else tells me that maybe that person’s not dead. At least I think–that is what you’re trying to tell me, right? ‘Cause the whole vampire with a soul thing, I mean, there are two, well, were, or–or– is it are?” Buffy’s eyes are uncertain as she prods Andrew with her foot. Off his tentative nod, she resumes her diatribe. “God! Okay, when I think someone’s dead, hey, sue me if I expect them to stay dead, right? We’re not on the Hellmouth anymore, okay?! Resurrection is not the cool new thing.”
Dawn frowns. “I don’t get it, Buffy. What’s Andrew talking about?”
“I knew it. I mean, okay, I sensed it. Slayer-sense, majorly mojofied after that spell Willow did, and I knew something felt off. I should ask how. I mean, I should really ask how, ’cause how does this always end up happening?” Buffy is talking to herself, pacing the length of the kitchen floor as Andrew gets his breath back. “Can’t anyone just stay dead?’ she wails to the ceiling. “Or at least come back in a way less disruptive fashion, with maybe a messenger that doesn’t trod all over me with steel-toed boots of general unpleasantness–”
“Buffy.” Now Dawn is getting annoyed. Her lips are nearly pouting. “Who is non-dead?” She stops and re-thinks. “Or undead? Or alive again? Buffy, what the hell is going on?!”
Buffy seems to inwardly crumble. “I’m not sure, Dawnie. But I think I have an idea. Dreams and portents and other things that tend to be foreshadowy and I really don’t think I’m handling this at all the way you thought I would, am I?” Off Andrew’s vehement ‘nuh-uh’, Buffy’s mouth sets in a grim line. She squats next to Andrew. “Tell me how,” she says quietly. “Tell me when. Tell me all of it.”
And so he does. After they get him water for his throat and Buffy apologizes sheepishly for the attempted strangulation.
The story that follows is disjointed and hazy at best (“Wait, he was a ghost?! Vampires can come back as ghosts?” and “Andrew, I don’t care if blood smells like the taste of tar and feet, what the hell happened next?” or “What do you mean he got his hands chopped off!?) but miraculously, Buffy gets the main gist of it. She sits on the couch of her beautiful Roman home and envisions flying to L.A and killing Spike–again.
“Okay,” she begins incredulously when Andrew is finished. “Let me get this straight. So first he sacrifices himself to close the Hellmouth–after denying a heartfelt declaration of–of perfectly legit feelings, the stupid jerk–and then he comes back as a ghosty thingamajig before some dude named Fred makes him all fleshy again. He chooses to stay in L.A with Angel, who hates him worlds of a lot by the way, so he can help a whole bunch of people who could care less about him. He lets you tag along on his little jaunts and he gets his hands chopped off by the crazy slayer. And yet…and yet, the most unbelievable part of that entire story is how he really, honestly, truly meant it when he told you not to tell me he was back. Because the Spike I knew would’ve been on the first cargo-hold Rome-bound the instant he was alive. Or…less dead. At the very least, the Spike I knew wouldn’t have dreamt of keeping this from me, ’cause he would’ve known that if he did, my fist? Would be meeting his face. Lots of pain involved.”
Buffy’s eyes flash thoughtfully. “Of course, I’d have to be there to inflict said pain. Maybe a really hard noogie to start off with, it works so well with you and he really hates when people mess up his hair…” she trails off.
Buffy turns to face her sister and Andrew, both of whom are sitting in stunned silence.
“Well?” she demands. “What are you waiting for? We totally have a flight to book.”
Dawn and Andrew exchange looks before Dawn rises and places a placating hand on Buffy’s arm.
“Buff, come on, let’s talk about this okay? I mean, we’re all really glad that Spike’s back–”
Andrew gives a barely surpressed shriek of happiness.
“–but it’s something we have to think about before we go charging back to L.A, all jet-set and badass.”
“What’s there to think about?” Buffy demands, folding her arms. “There’s no reason to have thoughts. We’re going.”
Dawn frowns. “Buffy, be reasonable. You wanted a break from California, remember? And to be honest, I need one, too. I like it here, and I don’t think it’s a good idea to go gallivanting around the world just ’cause dorkface here says Spike’s back and non-evil.”
“Non-evil? What’s that supposed to mean? Of course he’s non-evil, he got his hands chopped off for the greater good! And I’m not leaving you alone with him,” Buffy says, pointing to Andrew. “He couldn’t adequately protect a spoon. So you’re only other option is Giles, land of tweed and tea.”
Dawn scowls as she tries another tact. “Well, who says Spike even wants us there anyways? He told Andrew not to let you know he was back, didn’t he?”
“Yeah, ’cause he’s stupid,” Buffy exclaims, as if it were obvious. “Look, Dawnie, I don’t know why we’re even arguing this. If Spike’s back, I have to see him.”
Dawn cocks her head. “But why?” she asks exasperatedly. “I totally get why you kept him around before–big with the Apocalypse and the need of able bodies, okay? But we’re fine the way we are now, no Apocalypses as far as the eye can see, even. So why do you wanna go back to L.A and complicate your life again?”
Buffy is silent as she stares down her younger sister. “Because,” she says finally. “That’s who I am. Haver of the complicated life.” She shrugs. “Unfinished business, Dawn. I’m really sick and tired of vampires thinking they know what’s best for me. He gets to be a fun little surprise in my life, but I don’t get to call him out for wanting to keep it from me? Nope. No more Mr. Nice Buffy.”
Dawn sighs. “I’m just worried about you,” she says softly. “I know how intense things were with Spike, and how intense things were with Angel.” Her tone is heavy with meaning. “They’re both gonna be there, right in front of you in the same room. Two vampires with souls who came back from hell and are in love with you. And who both fight like little babies, if my fake memory serves me right.”
“It does,” Buffy makes a face, “And I am so not new to the awkward situations. But this is something I have to do, Dawn. I wouldn’t feel right if I knew he was back and I hadn’t gotten to say my piece.” She brightens. “Besides, I’m not done baking yet, so things’ll stay nice and simple..”
Dawn looks confused.
“Long story,” Buffy says. “Don’t worry, okay, honey? I’ll be fine, things will be fine. We’ll go in, see Spike, have the annual angstfest with Angel, then we’re out in a flash. No one gets hurt. Or maimed, at any rate. I hope.”
“Well, why do we have to go now, right this minute?” Dawn almost stamps her foot, but refrains. But only just.
“Because I said so! I’m so tired of Rome,” Buffy says. “I need to be somewhere I can hear bad American pop that’s not four years out of date, and I need ice in my drink. I need crappy California pizza, and icky L.A smog. I need to get out of here, and I need to see Spike.” Off Dawn’s crestfallen look, she scrambles for more incentive. “And you’re right, there are no apocalypse as far as the eye can see. Perfect time for a vacay, and maybe we can even get some action when we’re there.”
Off Dawn’s raised eyebrow, Buffy clarifies, “Demon action.” A beat. “Oh, for the love of God. Not that sort of action! Look, I’ll let you kill stuff if you just agree to come along and stay off pout-mode.”
Dawn glares a second more, but the allure of pointy weapons proves too strong. She sighs. “Fine. But I’m gonna be missing school.”
Buffy grins and gives Dawn a hug. “Well, I missed tons of school when I was your age, and look how I turned out!”
The sisters share a panicky look before Dawn reasons, “Well, I’m a little better off then you were. And I could always ask Paolo to tutor me.”
Buffy’s face is stern as she heads towards the kitchen phone to book tickets. “No more tutoring sessions with Paolo, okay? I just got here, I don’t want the authorities looking into my criminal record already just because questionably hunky italian men start mysteriously disappearing.”
Dawn’s voice from the living room sounds huffy. “Spoil my fun!”
“I live for it, sweetie,” Buffy calls cheerfully. She’s surprised at how invigorated she feels, now that she has a purpose. Sure, Spike being back is a big surprise, and under normal circumstances, she probably would think more rationally before going off all half-cocked. But she’s been bored half to death for the last few months, sitting in Italy without anything to do. A normal life, she thinks, is really overrated. And life with Spike was never normal. A teeny part of her points out that there are other reasons she is hopping a plane in the middle of the week to see Spike. But she squelches that teeny part and refuses to deal with it. “Cookie dough,” she tells herself firmly. “Raw cookie dough.”
Buffy forgoes the traditional flight plan and decides to use the powers and sources the new Council has given her. (That the new Council is run by Giles is totally a moot point, although she does have to rough a couple slayers up every now and then for not being discreet enough when they cough out, “Nepotism.”) She doesn’t look forward to the conversation she’ll have with Giles, so she decides to skip it entirely and just call straight to transport.
“Hello, Jeeves,” she says, putting on her thick, horribly-butchered English accent. Sometimes its fun to make life a little more surreal and annoying for Council phone operaters.
“Ah, hello Miss Summers,” the man says dryly. “Mr. Giles informed me to expect a phone call from you.”
“Really?” Buffy drops the accent as she asks curiously, “Why’s that?”
“He had a chat with Mr. Wells this morning. Mr. Giles muttered something about hormones and vampires, and instructed me to get a plane ready should you call in a frenzy. By the by, Miss Summers, are you in a frenzy?”
“Just get me a jet, Jeeves,” Buffy snaps peevishly, annoyed that Giles would know her so well, and really pissed that he made that cheap shot about hormones. Just because he wasn’t exactly rolling with the ladies…
“George,” the man says. “The name’s George, and your jet will be ready at the usual location by eight o’clock tonight. Good day, Miss Summers, and do try and remember vampires are usually a slayer’s nemesis, not their paramour.”
With an indignant click, the phone is hung up. Buffy stares at her end for a moment in disbelief before slamming it down. “Stupid council jerk. Why didn’t he blow up, too?” she mutters, stalking out of the kitchen.
“Ah, George give you trouble?” Dawn asks sagely, her eyes now glued to the television. Her suitcase is already packed and lying at her feet.
Andrew pipes up. “He’s a nice old chap, just a little bit stuck in the old ways. I once narrowly saved both of our lives with just a stake, a prayer, and a bottle of Evian–”
“Shut up, Andrew,” Buffy says wearily. “How’d you pack so fast?” she demands of her younger sister. Dawn just smirks and shrugs, shoving her hand down the bag of popcorn wedged between her and Andrew.
Buffy sighs as she runs a hand through her hair and turns to peek into the mess that is her room. Flight, check. Plan, sort of check. Packed suitcase? She groans. Not even close.
It’s two very long hours later that Buffy finally gets her suitcase to shut, and she silently says thanks that she has super-strength. ‘Cause she’s probably got enough clothes to put the entire cast of Sex and the City to shame. Not to mention the handbag filled with stakes that makes flying commercial airlines so hairy. She looks around, satisfied that her room is in proper order and that all the plants are good and watered. All that’s left now is to decide what to wear.
Dawn shows up at the doorway. “Are you done yet? The cab’s here.” she asks in a long-suffering voice. “What are doing, packing for a week? You said it’d be quick, in-and-out, simple.” Her eyes are suspicious.
“You can never be too prepared,” Buffy says stiffly. “Now help me pick out what to wear.” She holds up what’s left of her closet and Dawn rolls her eyes.
“Wear that green skirt you just bought with the white off-the-shoulder top. It’s cute and Spike liked your shoulders,” Dawn says thoughtfully. “And wear the black heels so you won’t be glaring up to him, you’ll be glaring almost level to him. You’ll look a lot more intimidating.” She turns to put her bags into the cab waiting downstairs.
“I look plenty intimidating now, missy!” Buffy calls after her, but slips on the black heels anyways. Once she’s dressed, she holds up jer leather jacket and stops to think.
“Cookie dough,” she says desperately to her reflection, smoothing down her hair. “I don’t care what I look like,” she chants, “I’m gonna put on this jacket because I’m not trying to lure any stupid back-from-Hell vampires into a sticky web of seduction.” She cocks her head critically. “But he really did like my shoulders,” she muses.
In the end, she drapes the jacket over her arm, hauls the suitcase into the cab, endures a tearful goodbye from Andrew, and she and her little sister drive towards a jet that will take them half a world away into the deep unknown.
She’s filled with anxious, nervous dread, but if there’s one thing she hates, it’s vampires with souls who like to decide what’s best for her. Now it’s her turn to make some decisions, and while Angel and Spike may like to believe it’s their home-turf, Buffy smiles, she knows better.
Soon, they will too.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/67148.html