|Blood and Rust
Author: smellslikecorruption PM
Instead of going to Europe right away, Buffy sticks around LA for a few weeks. Which puts her in an interesting position when Spike comes out of the amulet.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Chapters: 2 - Words: 6,438 - Reviews: 21 - Favs: 16 - Follows: 39 - Updated: 08-14-12 - Published: 10-10-11 - id: 7454964
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
AN: Written for seosanal_spuffy on LJ. Takes place during season 5 of Angel, starting immediately after Spike comes out of the amulet. This will be a multi-chap story, but I'm letting you guys know now that updates are going to be fairly sporadic. Real life is kicking my ass, and the only reason the first chapter got done was because I was working on a deadline. But it will be updated!
Ch. 1- Someone to Trust
Spike was burning. Fire in every inch of skin, every pore, the marrow of every bone. Pain seared across his body, until he was certain he was turning to ash. This was it. The end. No backing out now. He was going to see the place Vampires go when they dust. And it was-
An office? No wait, that couldn't be right. And who was that screaming? Oh. That was him. Ok so. Office, no more fire, and people. People saying his name. People he knew?
So there really was a hell. There was a hell, and he was in it, and for all the times he'd thought about where he might go if he dusted, skyscrapers never even made the list.
"Easy slim. Easy. No one's going to hurt you."
Green demons in lurid suits hadn't made the list either. Nor had, well any of these people. Who were these people?
Angel, Harmony, Brunette-who-wasn't-Cordelia, Greensleeves, Tough Guy, and… the man saying his name.
"…The Bloody. He's a Vampire. One of the worst recorded. Second only to-"
"Me. But you're dead."
Spike spun towards Angel. Angel's, office, Angel's great ugly amulet, clearly this whole mess was Angel's fault. Fucking Angel. What the hell did he think he was playing at?
Harmony was speaking again, but fury was washing over Spike so strongly, he could barely make out the sound of her voice, let alone distinguish what she was saying. How dare Angel and his little groupies pull something like this? He was dying five minutes ago, dying for the world, and now he was what? Standing in the middle of the water cooler gossip?
He was going to rip Angel's bloody head off. He shifted into gameface, lunged-
And landed… behind the desk?
Wait. Where had his legs gone?
The room fell silent, and Spike could feel a dozen eyes glued to his body. The half they could see, anyway. He glanced down, and was met with the truly disturbing sight of his body disappearing into the desk.
Something was very, very wrong.
"What- what's happened to me?"
"Well, I'm no doctor, but I think you're a ghost."
No. No, no, he couldn't be a ghost. Vampires die. They dust. They don't burn to ash and then return to haunt Joe in accounting. Harmony was wrong. There was no way, no fucking way he was a ghost.
Of course his argument would have been a whole lot stronger, had he not been standing directly in a solid object. Which, of course, Harmony had to go and point out. Bitch.
Tough Guy was talking now. "Where'd he come from?"
The English one stooped to retrieve the amulet from the floor, and Spike extracted himself from the desk.
"What is it?" That was the girl. The one that wasn't Cordelia.
"Something I gave to Buffy before-"
The image of her, her eyes shining up at him, her hand burning in his, the last he'd seen of her as she raced against time and flame up the crumbling steps.
"Buffy! Is she-?"
Relief flowed through him. She was okay. Buffy was okay. And if Buffy was okay, it meant the battle was over. It meant that they'd won.
He needed to see her. Needed to make sure for himself that she really was fine. Needed to hear her voice. He needed to get back to Sunnydale. And then he remembered. Last he'd seen it, Sunnydale was caving in. So if she wasn't in Sunnydale-
"Where- Where is she?"
Angel shifted, looking uncomfortable. "Some place safe."
"Want to see her. Want to talk to her."
Angel made an irritated noise and stared pointedly at the desk behind Spike.
"I kind of think Buffy's the least of your concerns right now, Casper."
Yeah, yeah. Girl he loved first, then figuring out what new law of physics he was breaking.
"You can't keep her from me."
Angel fixed him with a look. "She's not mine to keep. Or yours."
She wasn't. Spike knew she wasn't. But those last few nights, holding her while she slept, it had felt like she was. She'd felt like his, and for now that had to be good enough. It would piss Angel off, at any rate.
"Says you! You got no idea what we had."
"You never had her."
He had, though. A million different ways, a hundred different places, and he hadn't been kidding about doing things with her he couldn't spell. And it suddenly occurred to him that Angel probably didn't know that. Jackpot.
Spike got as close as he could without standing in Angel.
"More than you, you poncy-"
His plan to piss off Angel was momentarily derailed when Harmony made a loud noise of disgust.
"Oh. My. God! You and Slayer actually...I mean I know you had that twisted obsession with her, but…" She shuddered, and stormed out of the room, leaving a somewhat stunned silence in her wake.
Harmony Kendall ladies and gentlemen. Stealing everyone's thunder since the early nineteen-eighties.
Spike turned back to Angel, expecting to find a look of shock, maybe some disbelief, and instead found…resigned irritation? Huh. So Angel knew more than Spike had thought he would. Interesting.
"Tell me where she is."
"No. She doesn't need to know right now. At least not until we figure out what's wrong with you."
"So what? You're just going to pretend you have no idea where she is until it's convenient for you? Even if that would keep me looking for her, which it won't, your master plan's going to backfire. What do you think she's going to do to you if you call her up and say 'oh by the way, been meaning to tell you, but Spike came out of that amulet I brought you, and I've known for weeks.' She's not fond of secrets, you know."
"What if you disappear again? What if you fade away before we even know what's going on? It's better for everyone if we keep it quiet for a while."
Angel was in his face now, eyes snapping dangerously.
Spike held his gaze. He was dimly aware that the others in the room were whispering amongst themselves, but he could really care less what they were saying.
"You can't keep her from me. I know you know where she is. Just tell me."
Angel took two deep sawing breaths and stepped back. "Fine. She's in LA. Staying in my hotel. But she's probably leaving soon, Giles wants her to go to Europe with him and restart the Council. And here's what I think. I think you don't tell her you're here, she leaves for England, and she gets on with her life."
"Screw that! You can't make decisions for her! That's not your responsibility you interfering git!"
"She's already mourned you Spike! What's so wrong with letting her think that you're dead?"
"Because I'm not dead! I'm not dead, and if she wants to go to Europe with the Watcher I'm not going to try and stop her. But I want to at least see her before she leaves."
"Why is it so important that you see her?"
Was he serious? "Because I love her, you dunce."
The conversation going on behind them suddenly ceased, and out of the corner of his eye, Spike saw the girl quickly leave the room.
"You're not going to change my mind Angel."
They stared at each other for several tense seconds.
A female voice cut across the impromptu, and frankly unsettling, staring contest.
Spike turned towards the door and found Girl-who-wasn't-Cordelia standing with her hands on her hips.
"What is it Fred?" Fred? Her name was Fred?
"You're both being idiots, and I personally think there are more important things to talk about, for example the vampire ghost who just came out of a piece of jewelry, but it's pretty obvious nothing's going to get done around here until you two solve your little girl problem. I called the hotel. Buffy and Willow are on their way over."
A smile worked its way across Spike's face. She was coming.
"Thanks, uh, Fred."
Fred shrugged. "If I was Buffy, I would want to know that you came back. Besides, if she was the last person to see you, maybe she can help us find some answers."
Angel spoke up from where he was leaning on his desk. "Isn't there anything we could do now? You know, to figure out why Spike isn't a big pile of dust in a crater?"
"I have some ideas, but I want to wait for Willow. Could be this is less scientific and more magical."
English crossed his arms. "So we wait?"
Angel sighed. "We wait."
"Is anyone going to do introductions or should I just keep calling you insulting nicknames in my head?"
Roughly fifteen minutes later, the double doors nearly snapped off their hinges and in strode Buffy, closely followed by Willow.
Spike fought the urge to run up and embrace her. He hadn't quite let himself believe she was okay until he had seen her. But there she was, all in one piece.
"Buffy! Thank God. What's the matter?"
She had stopped abruptly just inside the door and was staring at him with horror and revulsion all over her face. But her eyes, her eyes were full of something else entirely. Fear, maybe, and sadness.
When she finally spoke, her words were halting and close to shaky. "No. No. You're not here. You're not him."
"Buffy?" He took a step forward and she flung out her hand. He stopped. "What's wrong, love?"
" Don't what?"
"Don't anything! We stopped you! Spike stopped you! How dare you show up here, looking like him!"
Suddenly it all clicked into place, and a horrible weight settled in his stomach.
"No. No Buffy, I'm not The First."
"Really? Because the last time I saw Spike he was pretty solid and you're standing in a chair."
He was? Fuck.
"I came out of the Amulet. I'm a ghost."
She laughed, but there was no humor in it. "A ghost? Really? That's a new and refreshing crock of bull."
"It's not!" He started to pace. "It's me! More or less." Why hadn't he thought about that before she arrived? They'd all spent months fighting an enemy that could assume the form of dead people and walk through walls. Of course that's what she was going to see. He was a moron to have expected anything else.
"You have no idea how much I wish I could believe that. You have no idea how much I wish he was here."
"I don't know Buffy." Oh right. Willow was here. "Did The First ever seem that, um, agitated to you?"
Buffy addressed Willow, but her eyes never left Spike. "We see what we want to see, Will. You know that."
Wait. Willow was here! "Willow!" She jumped, clearly startled by his sudden interest in her.
"You're a witch!"
"So can't you, I don't know, sense me?"
She shook her head. "It doesn't work like that. I can't feel anything from ghosts. And I couldn't feel anything from The First either. It fooled me too."
Magic. Bloody useless when you needed it most. That was just typical.
Fuck it. He got as close to Buffy as he could, without actually touching her. She looked away from him, but she made no movements.
She had to see. He had to make her see.
"Look at me. It's me."
She looked him straight in the eye and all the anger melted away leaving only a deep sadness. "No. It isn't. It can't be. Spike's gone. I saw him die."
"Ask me something. Anything. Something only you and I would know."
From a thousand miles away, he heard Angel scoff. "Like that's particularly long list."
Fire snapped into life in Buffy's eyes and she looked past Spike. "It is actually, but the problem with The First is that it knows everything. It becomes the person it's embodying. Anything Spike knew is fair game."
She turned back to him. "Right? That's how you're game works?"
"I wouldn't know. My experience with The First pretty much begins and ends with it torturing me."
Buffy flinched. Good. He was getting to her. If she really did love him, had loved him, shouldn't be able to look at him and just tell? He'd been able to tell her apart from the First. Or he would have, if he hadn't been completely out of his mind.
"Look me in the eye, and tell me I'm not Spike. Please Buffy. Just look at me. I'm not lying."
She pressed her lips together, and faced him dead on. He could see her emotions playing across her face, could pinpoint the very second she saw him for who he was. The moment she started believing that he was who he said, and not her enemy. And he could see, the next moment, when she shut it down. When she stopped herself from hoping.
"I don't know. Maybe. I don't know."
His heart sank. She wasn't going to believe him. She wasn't going to let herself.
"Um." Fred smiled apologeltically. "I don't want to interrupt-" she gestured toward the two of them "-all this, but there are ways we could figure out who he is. What he is. We were just waiting until you two got here."
Her words brought the whole room rushing back. Angel glancing between Spike and Buffy, Willow looking expectantly towards Fred, and Wesley, Gunn, and Lorne who mostly looked confused. And Harmony lurking somewhere just outside the doorway. Probably eavesdropping.
Angel spoke first. "Well they're here now. What's the solution?"
"There are some tests I could run. If he's a ghost, the scanners will pick up on it. And if he's not… I'm sure we have some sort of evil detector. This is Wolfram and Hart after all."
Buffy crossed her arms across her chest and looked around at the lab. It was all fancy equipment and people in lab coats, and really it was far too similar to the Initiative for her to be completely comfortable.
Actually, everyone was looking pretty uncomfortable, but Buffy had a feeling that that was due more in part to the incorporeal elephant in the room than the room itself.
Spike was standing still, hunched over himself, as Fred ran a scanner up and down the length of his body.
Buffy was trying as hard as she could not to look at him. She wanted so badly to believe that it was Spike. That he really had come back. After all, it wasn't like death was the most permanent thing in the world. Not her world at least.
It would have been so easy, back in Angel's office, to look him in the eyes and tell him she believed him. To the same kind of faith in his words that he had always had in hers. And she had believed it. She'd looked at him and it was Spike.
Seven years on a hellmouth had taught her to not always trust her eyes, and to double check against her heart. Seven years and the most important lesson she'd learned was to be wary of the things she wanted coming true. They almost always came with a price. And if the price of wanting Spike to be alive was the First returning to play with her life, then she couldn't be too careful. No matter what her instincts were telling her. Trusting people was a dangerous game, and too many lives were in her hands for her to take reckless chances.
Suddenly a loud beeping erupted from Fred's scanner, and everyone in the room started. She squinted at it for a moment, and then looked up into Spike's expectant face.
"You're not The First. You're a ghost, sort of, but you're you."
Her words raced through Buffy like wildfire. It wasn't The First. It was Spike. Spike was back, he was back, he wasn't dead, he wasn't standing in front of her and he wasn't dead.
"Buffy?" He was saying her name. Cautiously, like maybe she still wouldn't want him. Stupid vampire.
Alive, alive, alive, Spike was alive.
She could feel a smile stretch across her face as she stared at him across the lab.
He softened, a grin tugging at the corner of his mouth. "Tried to tell you that."
Spike was alive, and he was here, and he was smiling at her. Smiling at her like had been three weeks and a lifetime ago.
Joy bubbled up from deep inside her, and Buffy laughed.