‘Liaison’ Part III

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Liaison
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“Liaison”
Rated R- just for a few naughty words
Medium – Fanfic
Summary – As Spike and Angel consider the Senior Partner’s true intentions for the amulet, the new Council of Watchers and Slayers begin to bite off more than they can chew.
Setting – This chapter takes place a day after the events of “You’re Welcome,” going AU from this point on.

The café in London was one of those posh see-and-be-seen places where the young and hip downed cup after cup of high-priced bean extract while looking out the plate glass windows of the contemporary metal framing. In short, just the place a Slayer – or Buffy, really, if he was honest with himself – would pick. He, in turn, had specified night as the meeting time.

In his habitual skintight black shirt and jeans, heavy leather duster flaring out from his ankles, the Big Bad persona out and on display like so much tropical bird plumage.

He doubted he’d actually see Buffy here – far too risky, unless they were really stupid. Striding out of the shadows like a malevolent wolf, with coat flapping, he’d seen the small knot of Slayer preteens – and he could just see it in them, like green on grass – pause to take an appreciative glance. It was amusing, now that there was more than one Slayer, to see their faces as one twist into shock and disgust as they registered his status as a vampire.

“Evening, ladies,” he called out, strolling right up to them. He took a cigarette from his pocket, noting the reaction of one girl as he reached into the depths of the coat. “I know very well who you are,” he continued, pulling the Zippo from his pocket and lighting it. “You should know that I’m the bloke your folks are set to meet.”

“What’s your name?” one Slayer said, stepping to the forefront. Dark hair, almond eyes – Indian by extraction, but all Slayer within. He wondered briefly if she danced in clubs with her friends.

Spike lazily took a puff of his cigarette. “Was rather hoping to surprise them with that. I suppose Willow’s told you about naming magic?”

The girl was slightly taken aback. Fifteen, he thought dismally. She couldn’t be older than fifteen.

“Spike’s the name,” he said, proffering a hand. “Or William the Bloody, if you prefer. Personally, I don’t. Bad memories.” The girl eyed his hand as if it were a striking serpent.

“Well then, Spike, or William the Bloody, you should know that we’ve got a witch looking over you right now. If she senses that you’re about to get violent, or sneaky, she’ll strike you dead,” she said – snippier than Dawn on the rag, he thought, amused.

Spike took another puff, unmoved by her threat. “And if she’s looking down on me right now, then she just got the shock of her life. One of them, anyway.” He dropped the cigarette, half-finished, before crushing under his heel. “Lead on.”

Escorted by a phalanx of Slayers, he made his way through the café, noting among the patrons that most, if not all, were Slayers, eyeing him from over cardboard cups of

He’d prepared himself for this moment for several weeks, as Wesley negotiated terms with the Council of Watchers. A file photo of Buffy that he’d found in the archives had captured her in front of Buckingham Palace, at the changing of the guard. She must have been posing for another camera, but this voyeuristic shot made by Wolfram and Hart captured her smiling face from the side. Spike had looked at it again and again, committing the new angles to memory, the slight rosy sunburn on her nose. Pointless, he knew, because they’d never be so stupid as to bring her to this first meeting.

But if he thought he could numb his reaction to the real thing, he was wrong.

Buffy sat at the head of the table, mouth ajar and swinging open, half rising as Spike strode in. Seeing her drop in composure – seeing her – it was all he could do not to mimic her.

The innocuous white room was dead silent as the two sought each other’s eyes. Spike had a mental file of the look in her eyes, tucked away in the corners of his mind. Bewilderment smoothed out into breathless wonder, which skidded into confusion…

“He says he’s the guy,” the lead Slayer announced. “Said his name is William the Bloody, or-”

“Spike.” The word hung in the air. Peripherally, he noted the presence of several other Slayers, Vi among them, and Andrew, who just looked uncomfortable. Giles was there too, but Spike took no more notice than it took to make sure the Watcher hadn’t gone for a stake.

“Hey! Didn‘t you die?” The cry brought everyone’s attention to Vi, who had forgone her beloved hats and corduroy in favor of sleek hair gel and unforgiving Kevlar, though she still had the comically wide-eyed look down pat. Now that he pulled his eyes from Buffy, every Slayer in the room was in some form high-tech-all-terrain-no-ironing material that looked like Barbarella updated for the next century.

“Matter of fact, yes,” Spike said hoarsely, looking back to Buffy. “Makes it twice now.”

Like flipping a switch, the sound of his familiar voice brought the Council back into action, and a cacophony of voices, each asking different questions, rose with each passing second. Buffy, however, was still silent, and Spike observed confusion making a mad dash for anger…

“Everyone out.” she said quietly, and when no one quieted, she cried out with a ragged edge in her voice. “Everyone else out! Now!’

Slayers rose from their seats, mumbling but obedient, dragging their feet as they exited with lattes and mochas in hand. Andrew bounced past him with an eager, almost apologetic movement. Giles got up, paused, lightly touching Buffy’s shoulder, but finding no response, left the room. He walked past Spike, drawing the vampire’s gaze with a significant look that promised dire things, before leaving and closing the door behind him.

When he looked back, Buffy was halfway over to him, golden locks bouncing in her haste. She curled them again, he observed, glad to note that she was taking some time for herself. She stopped just short of arm’s length from him, running her eyes over him in a way that felt like a caress.

“You’re alive?”

“’S what I told them.” Smooth, he moaned to himself. Keep doing it that way mate, and soon you’ll be asking yourself where you went wrong. Again.

“Did Wolfram and Hart bring you back? Are you their slave or something?” She had a bright voice, he remembered, like so many wind chimes.

“I’m no one’s bloody slave, no matter what Angel seems to think…” Damn, damn, DAMN! Not the A-word so soon!

“Angel sent you?” she asked, worry crinkling her brow again. “He’s part of Wolfram and Hart now, isn’t her?”

“Kind of…it’s kind of hard to explain. Kind of hard to tell from day to day.” He tucked his chin in a bit, ducking her eyes, as the side of his mouth curled up in a self-deprecatory gesture.

Whether at his words of the look on his face, the slightest of smiles curved on her lips, and he watched, mesmerized, as she stepped closer.

He nearly started to feel her hand on his face, a warm beam of light cupping his cheek, then moving on, rough calluses softly brushing the planes of his forehead, across his eyebrows, down the steep curve of his cheekbones to touch his chin, his lips…he closed his eyes at this unexpected gift, a soft touch where he expected something to sting.

“Something that only I would know?” she asked softly, still running light fingers up and down the bridge of the oft-broken nose.

Oh, why not? Perfect moment and all that rubbish…

“Your last words to me were that you loved me,” he answered softly, trying not to break the mood.

“That’s right,” Buffy said, hand sliding from his cheek. It came hammering back a moment later, knocking him back a foot or two and completely burning off the romantic haze that had settled over his brain.

That’s why not, you soppy romantic sod.

“What the hell was that for?” she shrieked, body posture changing from relaxed wonder to full-on hellcat mode.

Raising a hand to his bruised cheek, Spike probed it before answering. “Isn’t that my line?”

“I don’t know who or what you are, but you’re not Spike,” she ground out slowly, eyes flashing up at him. “Spike wouldn’t join Wolfram and Hart, let alone represent them. Spike wouldn’t even join a big group like that – way too conformist for Mr. Look-at-Me-” her voice rose steadily higher- “and if Spike were alive and kicking, he’d have picked up a phone and called me!”

“I get how you could think everything but the last bit.”

“Andrew didn’t even look surprised when you walked in the door, and he‘s been crying over you for months!” Buffy was winding up – he knew the signs – closed face, rigid jaw, hard eyes that looked everywhere else before focusing in on him.

“Oh.” He crossed his arms in front of his chest and tilted his head to the side to regard her, cursing Angel silently.

But just as she’d wound up, looking at him again seemed to deflate her. She was still extremely angry, he knew, but more disappointed than anything, and that was far harder to reach her in.

“I did love you, you know,” she continued, solemn green eyes watching the play of emotion across her face. “And now it turns out that while I loved you, you came back, didn’t tell me, and were going evil again.”

“Now, wait just a tic, Buffy. ‘M not evil. More than a few shades lighter than Captain Forehead of the Evil Empire, in fact.”

Buffy crossed her arms underneath her breasts, lifting her chin up in the air in defiance of this. “Membership at Hell, Incorporated would seem to say otherwise. Or is it just kind of like they’re sponsoring your Little League team?”

“I am not a- sponsoring your Little League team? That’s a good one. Didn’t think of that…” Spike shook his head distractedly. “I am not a member of Wolfram and bloody Hart. I don’t draw a salary or bennies, had to nearly beg to get them to give me a lift here in their jet.’

Spike realized he was speaking through his teeth, taking a small breath to soften his stance.

“Then why were you…”

“Was stuck there, when that bit of costume jewelry spat me out in Angel’s office. Was a ghostie for a while, then a month or so ago, got flashed back into touchability. Part of the reason I’m here, because I’m of the opinion that the whole thing was an attempt by the Senior Partners to hold you ransom to Angel.”

“What?” Confusion instead of anger. Better.

“It’s a long story, probably should let the others hear about it. The other reason…”

Buffy held up a hand, crosswalk-policeman style. “Back up a second. You’re here from Wolfram and-”

“I Just told you I’m not!” he exploded.

“-Hart, to warn me about Wolfram and Hart? You’re not with the sense-making.”

“Got a cell phone? ‘Cause I’d love to hear the poof’s reaction when that comes out of your mouth.”

“And you are from Wolfram and Hart,” she continued, “because you haven’t said that you weren’t hanging around there for that last month, and Wesley said when he was sending an ambassador, that person would be speaking about concerns the Senior Partners had about the Slayers.” Undaunted, his girl. He liked it a little better when it wasn’t so focused on him.

“Which is what I was getting to, before you jumped the gun.,” he growled. “And it’s liaison, not ambassador. Liaison sounds sexier, and ambassador sounds like it should have feathers.”

“So what’s Wolfram and Hart’s big problem with me, huh? Are their scales of justice being toppled by all the Slayers taking out evil on a large scale for once?”

Angel had never said what the confrontation had been like between him and Buffy when she realized he was heading up Wolfram and Hart. Spike found himself wishing that he’d pressed harder to find out what it was like, if they found themselves at odds quite like this. Opposite sides, yeah, but Buffy would have at least had to acknowledge that both she and Angel were heading up powerful organizations with the capability to bring each other to their knees.

Wait – who was he kidding? This was Buffy, in all her glory, Queen of Denial Extraordinaire.

“No, as a matter of fact, the Senior Partners are likely less troubled by you than even they thought.” Spike saw her quick flare of anger and pressed on before she could interrupt. “While the Slayer armies have done a good job at taking out some nasty ugly beasties, they’re seriously buggering up with others. You’re knocking around a lot of powers that have been in place for millennia, and it’s gonna backfire on you in a bad way. You’re thousands strong, but you’re still not the worst news they’ve ever heard of.”

If Spike thought Buffy’s glare was poisonous before, he could swear the one he was getting now was slowly roasting his skin.

“That’s something I want discussed with the other Slayers here,” Buffy said, brushing past him for the door. “I don’t trust you not to screw with the facts.”

A small part of him cursed Angel still, but the majority of him cursed himself and his decision to stay away for that pointless month, and railed at her and her inability to see him.

“Make sure Kennedy’s there,” he dredged out. “She’s got a lot to answer for.”

Behind him, Buffy paused with her hand on the doorknob.

“Spike,” and his name came out satin-smooth, in a voice fraught with disappointment, anger, hope, joy, betrayal, and a host of other emotions he didn’t care to reflect on at the moment. “I did mean it, you know.”

Hot, then cold. Nothing changed, except now, even with the soul, came the urge to hit back.

“I know,” he said, not facing her, and not about to now. “But you couldn’t say it until you knew I could count the rest of my life in minutes. No commitment for you, was there? Never even have to let your friends know, and we could take it to our respective graves. Wouldn’t have to deal with loving me, just my memory.”

He paused, shoulders slumped. “Thing is, love, I don’t know that I trust you with my heart.”

 

Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/192954.html

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