|A Midwest Monster of the Highest Grade
Author: MaireAilbhe PM
After surviving Los Angeles, Spike has relocated to Cleveland to start over. Spike & Tara friendship / Spuffy.Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst/Romance - Spike & Tara M. - Chapters: 39 - Words: 62,186 - Reviews: 100 - Favs: 33 - Follows: 40 - Updated: 09-28-12 - Published: 01-28-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7784686
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
CHAPTER 35: Keep Finding Me
CHAPTER RATING: T
CHAPTER PAIRING: Dawn & Spike, Tara & Spike
TIMELINE/SPOILERS: AU after AtS "Not Fade Away"
DISCLAIMERS: All BtVS characters are the property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy Productions. I'm just fixing their mistakes!
CHAPTER CREDITS: n/a
CHAPTER NOTES: I think it's so weird how many stories I'm seeing lately that are set in Cleveland. Kinda makes me wish I picked a more 'original' place to set mine... but I really am a Clevelander, so that's my excuse! I love this dirty, rusty, roughed-up city! :D
Madame Polina's phone had been ringing off the hook all the night. It seemed as though each one of her sisters in the Devon coven had called her separately to warn her about the mysterious spell they had all been under. Only she had already known, because she had been under it too. And it had been a curse, not a spell. And she was finally trying to sleep. And, dammit, there's a time difference between Devon and Cleveland! During the first few calls, she hadn't been awake enough to inquire about the secondary issue that was now her primary one: Rupert Giles. But by the fifth call, she had expressed her concern. By the tenth call, it had been confirmed to her that he could not be reached by telephone. Assurances had been made, however, that a convoy would be sent to check on him in-person, and contact would be attempted magically as well. Anything for their lone brother. All mention of the witch Willow had been forgotten in the sleep-addled commotion.
Okay, salad. I can do salad.
Buffy stood in the RV's galley staring at the collection of vegetables she picked up from the little side-of-the-road stand they passed somewhere in the Midwest. Dawn could live off of the junk food that Clem loved, but not Buffy. Ugh. Those heart-attack burgers they each had the other night were it for her. Just thinking about them was enough to make her go vegan.
They were in Kansas now, close to Missouri. Clem was incredible with the whole driving thing. It was like he barely needed a rest. A few stops to fill the gas tank up (she so owed him for that; she'd make Giles wire him the Council's money once they ended up in an actual place), but really that was it. And he definitely needed to teach her some tricks or two, because he was so smooth on those pedals that she was able to remain standing without any assistance from the counters.
Dawn had finally tired of singing and navigating. She was sitting cross-legged on the carpeted floor near the sofa, exactly between the driver's seats and the galley. Spread out around her were bits and pieces of Spike's memory chest. Buffy refused to leave it behind when they had packed for this trip, and Dawn was happy now that she'd been so stubborn. She loved that photo of Spike from the '40s—the one with that "Beauchard" person. It was weird to see him with black hair, but it still looked good. Especially with the way it curled a bit on top, crumpling in the breeze. And she could totally start crushing on him again with the sexy, careless way he had that cigarette dangling between his lips. There was a look on both of the men's faces that hid something—maybe a crime or even fear, though it was covered up kinda well, whatever it was. And their clothes! People just looked so much nicer back then. She glanced at Buffy in the worn-out shorts and tank top she was wearing, then at Clem who must not have realized he had Cheetos crushed along the sleeve of his t-shirt. Oh, and now he's picking his nose. Eww. Spike and that guy had pressed trousers on and simple button-down shirts with the collars wide open, sleeves rolled up to their biceps. She couldn't tell if they were at work or out enjoying themselves, but they looked content. That was almost foreign to her coming from Spike. The only times she ever saw even an inkling of that look was when he was helping her with homework. She scowled at Buffy for a moment (even though her sister was too busy trying not to chop off her fingers to notice). Why couldn't Buffy have treated Spike better all those years? It was so obvious that he genuinely loved her. Buffy always countered that she'd never understand. Well, for once, her older sister was right.
Sighing, she shifted so that she was on her stomach, propped up by her elbows, her feet gently tapping each other in the air behind her. They still had a ways to go, so she'd daydream. "Algiers" (wherever that was!) in 1942...it must have been so fun!
"I feel like I'm back in Algeria, trying to get one up on the fucking Nazis with the French buggering the Arabs to hell and the Americans dropping in to be the bleeding white hats," Spike growled.
Tara was staying out of his way. He was on the warpath now, having learned about Angel's involvement in the recent craziness that was his unlife. The good witch wasn't sure if there was anything she could do, but she wanted to try; if it would get her mind off of Willow's abandonment, she was all for it.
"Why don't we...try Buffy again?"
Spike knocked a nearly full bottle of vodka over at the suggestion.
"It's all about her, innit?" he yelled to no one in particular.
Tara's eyes began to tear up.
"He's always got to get his big, dirty mitts in and bollix it all to hell. First Dru, then Buffy. Can't just leave well enough alone, seein' as they didn't want anything to do with him to begin with. Oh no! Not Angelus Almighty!"
He vamped out and roared, shoving his chair aside.
Tara's shoulders slumped and she let out a soft sob. The hurt Spike was feeling seemed to attach itself to her own loss that she was trying to bear. It was too much.
When Spike caught sight of her defeated form, he shuddered to a stop. "Oh, pet."
He fell to his knees before her and wrapped his arms about her legs, pressing his face into her soft stomach. "Don't' cry, luv. I didn't mean that." He didn't know that she understood; her tears were for their mutual situation, but she was too emotional to voice it. "I'm just a bad, bad man. Don't listen to me."
Her hands went to his head, lightly holding his face there. Even in death, they both ached over the women they loved.
Once Tara began slumping more, Spike gathered her in his arms and carried her to his bed. She didn't protest. Instead, she clutched him tighter.
The good witch wanted to fill his dreaming mind with visions of happier times, but she just didn't have the energy in her to conjure that amount of magic. Instead, she nestled herself close, providing him with a soft body, if not a warm one.
He hugged her tight as if she were his own, and they sniffled against each other.
"God, look at me. Once upon a time I was feared. Now I'm just this."
Tara shook her head on his shoulder. "You're not just anything. You're a person. You are somebody. I can't be the only one who noticed that."
Spike gave a sad chuckle.
She placed her hand on his chest, sighing. "And obviously Angel thinks you're somebody. Otherwise, why would he have invested so much effort into all of this?"
He didn't want to think about that. He didn't want to give that bastard any consideration whatsoever. Moving to Cleveland was a way for him to separate himself from that life and that century-old relationship.
"I wonder how much time I've got yet?" Spike asked aloud. That was supposed to be a silent rhetorical question.
Tara lifted her head to look at him. "We don't know that he even has a clue where you are."
The frown that marred the vampire's chiseled face hardened slightly. "Oh, he's got his ways."
Angel sighed into his beer. He didn't know how the hell he was going to find Spike now. The demonic climate down in New Orleans threw him for a loop. He definitely had expected things to go easily. His plans always did; it was Spike who ran into glitches (and by 'glitches,' he generally meant Dru). The simple fact that he was sitting alone in this old bar drinking anything other than blood was proof of how pathetic he felt at the moment.
His intentions had been to find Buffy first, but now that she was on Spike's trail, he had to figure out a new route. Ideally, he wanted to intercept her. But this gnawing problem of Spike's whereabouts meant that he had effectively lost both of them.
He was about to order another drink when he smelled something oddly familiar. Outwardly, it was the tang of fresh blood. But beneath that was something else. Something that could only be...
Willow dabbed at her nose with her sleeve. God, not this again. She thought she was through with the whole bloody nose crap already. This was like Sunnydale all over. Her few steps out of the alley brought her closer to those old buildings she thought she saw. It hadn't been her imagination. In fact, the cobblestone building she was now approaching was like something out of her high school American history books. Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop? Now her bloody nose was making her very nervous. Had she teleported herself to the past? Oh God, oh God, oh God...
Her steps were tentative, wobbly. How was she going to get out of this mess now? She saw "Back to the Future" on TV once; were these people going to react oddly (or violently?) to her most-likely-unusual appearance? She'd puke right now if she could. Only, she had nothing in her stomach. She was starving. You're so stupid, Willow. Stupid, stupid, stupid! If you ever get back, you are begging Tara for help to control this stupid addiction. Yeah, that's right, it's an addiction, you idiot. Argh! Now I'm arguing with myself!
Gathering herself together, she crossed the street. The door was open to the blacksmith shop and it sounded like there was a nice amount of people inside. Is that normal? And then the scent that billowed out was less of whatever she imagined a blacksmith's place to smell like and more...well...alcoholic. Maybe they'd give her some food and water. She could offer to clean the shop or something. Oh no, what if they can tell I'm a witch? What if they burn witches at the stake? Oh God, oh God, oh God...
She was too consumed in panic to notice the hulking figure that was quickly exiting the building.
"Willow?" the voice asked, strong hands grasping her shoulders to keep their bodies from colliding.
When she looked up, she didn't know whether to scream or cheer. "Angel?" He was wearing modern clothes, which meant that she probably didn't end up in the past. The relief from that surged through her.
His face softened, apparently happy to see her as well, and her body couldn't help its reaction. She threw herself at him, hugging him tight, ignoring the voice in her head that was trying to remind her that she was still super-totally-definitely mad at him. This big lug was going to fix everything. (She hoped.)
Angel couldn't believe it. Just when he had thought he was forsaken, the Powers-That-Be sent him a sign! Willow! Sweet little Willow. Powerful little Willow. She was hugging him now, and he was so overjoyed at his luck that he broke from his tradition and hugged her back equally hard. This little cherub was going to fix everything, he just knew it. Now, how to ask for her help without giving away the whole plan?
Willow couldn't believe it. Angel was the last person (err, thing?) she thought could help her. But here he was, looking not-so-poor and not-so-starving and apparently was still quite soul-having. This could work. Yeah, so she was still mad at him over Spike, but maybe he could get her out of there. Get her back. Get her some help. He had to still feel bad about killing her fish, right? He could do her this favor as part of his redemption or whatever.