I seem to have left two months between posting. Sorry. I shall blame work.
First chapter & notes here
, and Master post of whole 'verse here
I own nothing. Rating:
Spike, Angel, Illyria, Buffy, Scoobies + cameos from more or less everyone in the 'verse.Feedback:
Is bloody ambrosia! (The secret ingredient is otter...)Word count:
3500 words approx.Setting and Summary:
As before. (Post-NFA epic quest thing.)
There was a neat list inside Buffy’s head. Except she kept adding extra points in spite of herself.
1. Call Johnson and work out the week’s training and patrolling schedule.2. Not think about Spike.
3. Talk to Dawn about that Antonio. And those super-short skirts.4. Not worry about where Spike is.
5. Keep working on the new Slayer program.6. Not look at all her new photos of Spike yet again.
7. Tackle the washing up.
When she’d got that far she sighed and leaned back in the sofa, her feet resting on the low table in front of her. She liked her sofa table - she should have bought it much sooner, those stupid block things that came with the flat were useless for anything more than a cup of coffee - and it had come in very handy the week before last... She smiled to herself and decided that it was utterly pointless to pretend that she wasn’t going to mostly think about Spike - like she did every other day. And she couldn’t even call him...
Dragging her hands through her hair she wondered at how her world had yet again been turned upside down. Two - no two and a half weeks ago everything had been going more smoothly than she could ever remember. Patrolling, training with the new slayers, spending time with Dawn and trying to stay in contact with her friends. And there had also of course been The Perfect Boyfriend, who had, emotionally, been as uncomplicated to date as a low fat yogurt. A really hot, charming, rich and endlessly reliable yogurt...
And then Spike had crashed back into her life, turning it upside down and inside out. As usual. With his cheekbones and eyes and lips and chest and coat and kisses that just melted her into goo... And love - a love she’d thought buried forever at the bottom of the hellmouth. All that love burning for her, setting her on fire...Cool pale hands with black chipped nail polish - like a physical sign of the darkness dwelling underneath the beautiful exterior - slowly caressing her burning hot skin... soft, soft lips pressing kisses into her neck, as reverent as though she were holy... arms holding her so tightly that they almost bruised - like they were never going to let go...
And that’s how it should have continued - he should have stayed, and they could have settled down or... something. But no - he had his own life now, complete with world saveage - interdimensional
world saveage no less - and it’d probably be weeks, if not months, before she saw him again.
Playing with the pendant around her neck she cursed prophecies and evil law firms - couldn’t she just once
have a simple relationship?
And then there’d been the big Slayer gathering in London.... In the past year-and-a-bit the remnants of The Council had been busy collecting new Slayers, banding them together in small groups, teaching and training them, and now they needed to think bigger - ‘phase 2’ as Andrew grandiously called it. If they could work out how to do this right, they could be truly global with instant response teams and cell groups spread all over. But they were woefully short of Watchers, and they also had to try to make sure that they didn’t end up branded as terrorists or something.
So far Buffy had considered the whole thing a headache - she’d been so exhausted after Sunnydale that she’d pretty much buried herself in her quiet little life in Rome. But now suddenly she realised that she really cared about things - she wanted
to be involved. Partly she thought it was that she still felt that the Slayers were hers
- since activating them had after all been her idea - but meeting Spike had done more than just make her finally fall head over heels in love. His commitment to his cause, and Angel’s vision, made her want to be back in charge of her own destiny.
Then there was a knock at the door, and she frowned as she got up. Unless the Chinese Take Away had worked out how to do mind reading (and she wouldn’t put it past them, she was sure than some of the employees were demons) she really didn’t know who it could be. Dawn wasn’t due back for at least an hour - presuming of course that she kept to her curfew.
She opened the door and it felt like the weirdest case of deja-vu. She stared at a dirty, filthy Spike, his hair in a mess of brown curls, standing in her doorway, and it felt like all the air in her lungs had decided to take a sudden vacation.
After a moment of speechless surprise, she said the first thing that came into her head: “Did you go crazy again?”
He laughed and shook his head - and it was a proper chuckle, not that horrible unsettling giggle she still remembered - and then she saw Angel behind him, in pretty much the same state.
“Sorry about the great unwashed invasion, pet, but Illyria dumped us here and vanished. Can we come in?”
Wordlessly she moved aside, but as they walked towards the sofa she called out sharply.
“No! Not the sofa - just... I’ll get chairs.”
Spike shot Angel a look, and drolly asked, “You know what’s one of the worst things about girlfriends?”
Angel chuckled, and Buffy shook her head as she put down the chairs, thanking the powers that they were made of plastic. It felt so utterly bizarre to have them just drop in, like it was somehow normal for them to just be alive and come see her. Like they weren’t a miracle.
“Sorry - private joke,” Spike said, slowly sinking into the seat.
Ignoring the joke she focussed on the reason. “It was really expensive,” she said, “Like - really, really
expensive. I got a discount of course, because...” she stopped herself, because mentioning The Immortal invariably made them way
grouchy. “I’d never be able to afford to replace it.”
Then looking them over she tilted her head, frowning. “Sorry - but what happened to your hair? Did you try miracle-gro?”
“No...” Spike said, shaking his head with a surprised look on his face, and Angel frowned. “How long has it been since we left?”
“Bout a week and a half... I’ve only been back from London for three days.”
Angel slowly nodded to himself. “Of course - time goes differently. For us it was... oh... a month? More maybe? The days were a lot longer...”
“Where were you? You said you were going to a different dimension...” She studied them more carefully. They looked fine, but she really didn’t know much about different dimensions. Except that there was one without shrimp.
Spike stretched his legs, yawning. “Oh yeah, went to to W&H’s home dimension. Pretty much your standard hell place - red sky and black mountains and all that crap.”
“Oh my god!” She swallowed, wondering what had happened and swiftly went to him. Bending over she tried to look underneath the grime. “You’re not hurt and bleeding to death but being stupid and manly?” She shot Angel a searching look as well, but Spike shook his head, amused.
Feeling mostly reassured, she still couldn’t help asking. “But - what was it like? Was it too
“Awful?” He looked surprised. “Nah, it was... well nice
might not be the right word, but - it was OK. No creature comforts, but quiet. Good place to unwind. Well except for the mountain of course, but before that - yeah, it was OK.”“OK?”
She was staring at him, feeling her jaw drop, but she couldn’t help it. “You thought hell
was a good place to unwind?”
Incredulous she turned to Angel, who shrugged noncommittally. “It was mostly dead. Some feral demons, but... hell’s only bad when you’re the one being tortured.”
There came an odd look over his face and he looked away, and she realised that she’d absentmindedly started playing with Spike’s hair.
This was no good. As a matter of fact it was very, very bad. What with the underlying awkwardness and the really disgusting hair (that she absolutely didn’t like, nope) she needed to do something.
“Look - Spike - you smell pretty rank. Would you like to go have a shower - I’ll bring you clean clothes, OK?”
To her great relief he didn’t protest at all, just nodded before yawning again and then making his way to the bathroom. With a swift glance at Angel she ran off, fetched the jeans and T-shirt she’d bought the week before last and handed them over along with the biggest towel she could find. After a kiss that was supposed to be quick, but ended up long and deep and smouldering, she - after a brief pause to make sure her heart had settled down and she didn’t look too blushing - heard the shower turn on and then she retreated to the sitting room once more.
Angel was still where she’d left him. Some things never changed... except of course that he had. More than she could really grasp.
Sitting herself in the sofa opposite she fixed him with a determined look. Time for getting things out into the open... Which they hadn’t tried since - since she couldn’t remember. The break-up? OK, there had been some talking before the apocalypse, but...
“OK Mr Avoidy, we’re going to have a talk!”
“Avoidy? I’m not avoidy.” He looked a little peeved and she smiled.
“Yes you are. This me-dating-Spike thing is obviously bothering you, but you’ve not said a word, just given us looks.”
“I talked to Spike back when we first met you again,” he said, defensively. “It’s OK, really...”
She eyed him sceptically and he suddenly lowered his eyes, studying his hands. There was a moment of silence and when he spoke again his voice was quiet and toneless.
“And I know now that’d you’d never choose me. Not anymore.”
She heard the underlying pain in his voice and reached out and took hold of his hand. She had always loved his hands - so strong and gentle... she’d been sure that as long as they were holding her nothing could go wrong. And she sighed a deep inwardly sigh, for all the things that could never be and for a past where she had seen life through such simple eyes.
He caught her eyes, shook his head. “I saw the way you looked at me back when... I don’t think you could ever accept who I am now. What I do.”
“You kill people...” she said quietly, remembering the scene far too clearly still.
“That and worse,” he replied. “You don’t know the half-” he stopped and swallowed. “Sometimes it feels like all I do is bring misery and death to all around me - everyone who I’ve ever cared about, my friends... they’d all have been far better off not meeting me. I’m free, but - the price was high.”
She didn’t know what to say, and had a feeling that really there was nothing she could
Then he smiled a little, reached out and softly stroked her cheek. “So the fact that you’re still alive is good. OK, I admit it’s not easy seeing you with someone else, but you and Spike obviously have something special...” She lost his eyes again as he looked away, the last sentence clearly having cost him a fair bit. But after a moment he added. “Of course he doesn’t deserve you, but at least he’s smart enough to know it.”
She smiled, surprised and grateful, and he continued. “I guess I just... I just want to know that he makes you happy.”
She could feel herself blush, and couldn’t help a big goofy grin spreading across her face. “Yes. Very. Very
very. It’s like... like some sort of miracle. I keep thinking it’s a dream and that I’m going to wake up.”
”Because he died?” Angel asked, and she shook her head. “That too, but mostly we just screwed things up so badly. We weren’t just dysfunctional, we were like... anti
-functional. You have no
idea... Sometimes... sometimes I understand why he never called. Working things out is a scary thing.”
She took a deep breath, saw the questions in his eyes. “Still - I don’t know if I’d still be alive if it wasn’t for him.” She smiled wryly. “Spike and I are just really, really complicated. But I think we can make it work. And... thank you for not being a jerk.”
Angel nodded. “Thanks for telling me.” Then a small smile stole across his face. “And anyway, I have a girlfriend.”
Buffy jumped at this information. “Nina, right? What’s she like?”
“Um... she’s lovely,” he said, slightly taken aback. Seeing the look on her face, he pulled out his wallet. “I have some pictures.”
“Pictures are definitely of the good,” Buffy agreed, greedily reaching out.
The photos showed a very attractive young woman on a beach somewhere, in a pretty flowery dress, laughing and smiling. The bright colours of a spectacular sunset were spread across the sky and Buffy felt her chest momentarily constrict as she abruptly recalled a dream she had thought long forgotten. She would never be able to walk along a beach with Angel’s arms around her... And she felt a sudden and rather forceful resentment against this girl who got to live out hers - Buffy’s - fantasies. Which was of course childish and pointless, but she couldn’t help herself.
“She’s an art student, right?” she asked, telling the stupid memories to go away, and Angel nodded. “She was working on a portrait when these pictures were taken, but she wouldn’t let me see it.”
The happy smile on his face made Buffy feel distinctly odd, because Angel looking happy was just... weird. And of course there was still the big question. “Do you...” she bit her lip, and Angel looked up, easily reading her mind. “What? Sleep with her?”
Buffy nodded, although seeing the expression on Angel’s face was all the confirmation she needed. She held up her hands. “OK - got it.”
The smile was still on his face however and she felt like a complete idiot. Maybe being avoidy was a good thing... Future note to self: Never ever ask Angel about his sex life! Also - change of subject needed, stat.
“So... she’s a werewolf, huh?”
“Yes,” he said, and then as he was about to continue stopped. “That reminds me - could you get hold of Willow for me? I need to ask her a favour!”***
When Spike rejoined them a while later, Angel was busy laying out his plans for a big concealing spell of some sort for the Hyperion - partly because Nina used the cage in the basement and partly because he thought it might be a nice base for them in between the dimension hopping.
“Much better!” Buffy said, taking in the shiny clean vampire in front of her. And the hair was kinda cute when not dirty she had to admit. Turning she asked, “Angel - would you like to borrow the shower as well?”
He shook his head. “For a start I don’t have spare clothes here...”
Spike shot him a look, but Buffy reached out, pulling him down on the sofa beside her. “It’s OK - Angel and I had a little talk. He’s... OK.”
Spike looked from her to Angel and back again, pondering. “Well that’s good.”
She nodded enthusiastically, willing them all to make this work. ‘Cause they could, right? They were all grown up and mature and she could be perfectly comfortable playing hostess to her current and her ex...
The word ‘hostess’ decided to come back for another spin through her head, and she belatedly realised that she’d not offered them anything to eat. A swift question confirmed that they were indeed hungry, and since she still had blood left in the fridge - there was no denying it, she was a terrible housekeeper - she went off to heat it up.
She came back a little later with two mugs, and settling down again next to Spike she couldn’t help but notice the face he pulled as he took his first sip.
“Has it gone off? It seemed OK.”
He shrugged. “Nah, ‘s fine, it’s just...” he scanned what he could see of the room. “Don’t suppose you’ve got a kitten hidden anywhere?”
“No! And you’re not allowed to play kitten poker either,” she said firmly, and he sighed deeply and kept drinking.
Angel however appeared more pleased. “Thanks Buffy. Hopefully-” he didn’t get any further as the door opened without warning and Illyria strode in.
“Do you wish to go to LA?” she asked and Angel after a second’s hesitation nodded and got up.
“Thank you for everything Buffy - especially Willow’s phone number. You sure she won’t mind?”
She shook her head vehemently.
The other vampire looked up.
“Do you have any preferences when it comes to a room? I’m figuring we could add extra protection for where we sleep.”
Spike shrugged. “Not bothered, as long as it’s as far away from you as possible.”
Buffy blinked at this apparent rudeness, but Spike caught Angel’s eyes, a tiny smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. Angel looked back silently, then slowly nodded. “Seems like a good idea. Very good idea.” A smile was hiding somewhere in his eyes, although Buffy couldn’t work out what was so funny.
“I’ll call you when we’re ready to set off again.”***
As Angel stepped through the portal into the lobby of the Hyperion he looked over his shoulder. They had already forgotten him... Spike must have said something, because Buffy was giggling and mock punching him - and then they vanished.
He sighed. It wasn’t easy, no matter what he said. He’d just have to learn to live with it... to let go of a dream he thought he’d stopped believing in years ago. And compared to all the people he’d lost... at least these two were still alive. He should know by now that the only way of keeping anything safe was by letting it go.
Except for Nina - so far anyway. She was like a surprise - something that he wasn’t supposed to have, and yet he did. He smiled as he walked up the stairs - he’d definitely have to make sure Spike’s room was as far away as possible.***
As Illyria geared up to open the portal, Buffy, still pondering their odd behaviour, turned to Spike.
“Can you read minds - vampires I mean?”
Spike shot her a look full of meaning, a sudden wicked grin on his face. “Pretty certain I can read your
She spluttered and punched him. “No - I mean you and Angel.” She looked up and realised that Angel was gone.
“No...” Spike answered, shaking his head and looking at her like she was crazy, and she sighed.
“You just do this thing
, and it’s like telepathy or something. It... it kinda freaks me out.”
“Oh,” he frowned. “Sorry - I guess we’ve just been on alone together for what - half a year now? We just...” he thought for a moment, “We know each other too well.” He shook his head, suddenly looking more worn out than he had since he stepped through the door. “And of course there’s the fact that we spent twenty years in the killing field together... that never goes away. Too many bloody memories.”
He almost smiled at the unintentional pun, then with a slow, deep sigh of contentment let himself settle down with his head in her lap. Looking up at her he continued.
“Thing is, now we’re bloody well stuck with each other, which isn’t exactly a dream come true... An’ just how am I supposed to survive that when he has a bleedin’ existential crisis whenever it’s dinner time?”
She frowned a little. “So your cure for this is... moving in together?”
He chuckled. “Well I like havin’ my own place, but since my flat got flattened along with half of LA - and Angel actually owns
the big brickpile - it seemed dumb not to take advantage... and I like
A wicked grin spread across his face as he went on to prove the truth in his words, and Buffy forgot everything about Angel and dimension travelling and baby slayers; the only thing in her world one vampire, kissing her.
Five minutes later Dawn walked through the door, screeched, and with warp-speed fled to her bedroom. As Buffy tried to straighten her clothing she thought to herself that Spike having his own place might be very nice indeed.Chapter 6
Tags: divided destiny, my fic