If We Could Take the Time
I don't own either Twilight or Angel unfortunately... I'm just playing.
'Cause nothin' lasts forever
And we both know hearts can change
And it's hard to hold a candle
In the cold November rain
We've been through this such a long long time
Just tryin' to kill the pain
Spike knocked back the last of his glass or bourbon and reluctantly stood.
It was time to head back to the offices, before the great poufy one Angel sent someone to search for him again. He liked this little hole in the wall pub, and had no desire to lose yet another of his spots to the older vampire's nosiness, because it was a certainty that the minute Angel found his hiding spots other members of their little group would just happen to start showing up there.
It would all be played off as mere chance of course, but Spike knew it was their way of keeping tabs on him, and he didn't care for it.
Consumed with his thoughts as he cut through a dark alleyway he was caught off guard as a petite human practically bounced off him and landed on the ground.
Raised as a gentleman, he automatically reached his hand out to help the young woman to her feet and the scent of her blood hit him like a wrecking ball. He was unable to stop the briefest flicker of his face changing, and the quiet gasp he heard told him that, despite the dim light in the alley, she had seen it.
She didn't scream or beg as he would have expected though. Instead to his surprise she just sighed, resigned, and said "Victoria will be disappointed that something else got to me first."
He was about to question what the hell she was talking about when she reached up to brush her hair from her face and her sleeve slipped down, revealing a scar that instantly grabbed his attention.
"Well now, luv," he reached out and carefully grabbed her wrist, carefully running his fingers over the scar there, "How did you get that? And how are you still alive?"
He looked down at the brunette and sighed as she just stared up at him with her rich brown eyes, something he'd always had a bit of a soft spot for.
"I'm not going to hurt you. Besides luv, I'm a regular in the pub around the corner; I'm not going to ruin that for the sake of a bite to eat."
He raised his eyebrows and smirked as she looked at him stunned, "You mean you didn't know what I am luv?" He questioned quietly, "Would have thought you'd have easily figured it out, what with that little badge of honour you have going on."
He indicated her wrist and Bella flushed, tugging her sleeve over the bite mark there. "You're a vampire? I never knew there was another kind."
"Oh I'm a vampire alright… more of a vampire than those poufy sparkling wankers anyway."
Bella couldn't help snorting at the description, making Spike smile wickedly at her. Realising that she was still on the floor he again held his arm out to her.
"Up you get," he helped her rise to her feet and then spotting a holdall next to her, bent to pick it up. "I'm Spike. What's your name, pet?"
"Well Bella, it's your lucky day pet," he said, swinging the bag onto his shoulder and gently guiding her out of the alleyway and towards Wolfram and Hart's offices. "Now, we're going to see some people that will help, and you are going to tell us all about that interesting scar of yours, and how you got it."
Bella walked silently beside the blond vampire, though her head was spinning with questions. The main one being, what on earth was he? And what the hell kind of name was Spike?
When his face had changed, however fleetingly, she had been convinced she was about to die, yet now she was trotting along beside him as they headed to who-knows-where. Logically she should run screaming, just leave him holding the bag containing her last few possessions and made a break for it.
Somehow though she knew it was okay. That despite the aura of danger around this man, that he wouldn't hurt her. He'd had plenty of chances to while they were in the alley after all. Besides, it wasn't like she really had any better options any more.
They finally stepped into the massive foyer of the Wolfram and Hart building and Bella gazed around in awe, feeling just a little bit intimidated. Apart from being very new and modern looking, she wondered why on earth somewhere that appeared to be a huge block of offices would be so busy at this time of night.
As she took in the people bustling about however, she quickly realised that this was no ordinary office block. Though the majority of the people appeared to be perfectly ordinary, mixed in among them were several who were clearly far from human.
She barely suppressed an alarmed squeak and edged closer to the mystery blond as something tall, with red skin and dressed in a business suit, walked briskly past, barely sparing her a glance.
Spike smirked a little as his companion practically glued herself to his side. Despite her bite scar, she obviously wasn't at all used to the supernatural world. Had he realised that, he might not have thrown her in at the deep end quite so much, but he couldn't deny that it was entertaining as hell to see her reaction. Not to mention having the pretty little brunette all but pressed up against him as they headed up in the elevator was definitely an added bonus.
"Is the great poof there?" Spike asked shortly as he saw Harmony sitting at her desk outside Angel's office.
"Oh hey Spike," she simpered, making him want to retch back up the bourbon he'd had earlier, "He's there, but they're having a meeting. So… who's your friend?"
"Perfect," Spike answered, ignoring the latter question and leading Bella straight to the door to Angel's office and taking no notice of the blond girl left spluttering indignantly behind them.
"Knock, knock," he called out irreverently as he opened the door and entered, guiding Bella into the room with him.
He actually felt a little bad as she followed him in, only to stop short with a tiny startled squeak as five pairs of eyes quickly snapped towards them. Knowing he would be hearing about actually being nice for a long time, he sighed and turned to her, meeting her eyes and speaking gently. "It's okay pet, there's not a person in this room that would hurt you."
Bella looked at him for a moment, and then nodded nervously, her eyes darting to look over the other people in the room. She really didn't have any better options.
"Oh honey," The female in the room said comfortingly when she saw how anxious Bella looked. She stepped forward slowly, "I'm Fred, and I don't know what Spike has gone and dragged you here for, but he's right, you're safe."
Taking Bella by the arm she led her to a couch, sitting down next to her while Spike stayed near the doorway watching them. "Time for that story now, pet." He said as the girls got settled.
As Spike nodded at her encouragingly, Bella started talking.
She began with moving to Forks and meeting the Cullens, then the events that followed. She talked about the dash to Phoenix and being lured to the ballet studio, showing them her scar and explaining how she survived, then the disastrous birthday party and how the whole family had just left her behind afterwards.
All six of them listened closely as Bella spoke, Angel sitting silently fuming behind his desk while Spike stood stiffly near the doorway. Gunn, Lorne and Wesley all stood quietly as Fred held Bella's hand when her voice started to wobble.
Bella pushed on as the older brunette gripped her hand in support. She described the catatonic state she'd been in and how she'd eventually worked her way out of it, and learnt about the wolves of La Push.
Then Victoria had started making appearances. Just taunting at first, but getting more and more vicious as she failed to reach Bella each time. One by one, the people Bella loved were targeted, Renee, Phil, and then eventually Charlie just after her graduation.
Then in another attack, one of the wolves was taken down.
Bella had been devastated by the loss anyway, but afterwards Sam had come to see her and things had suddenly got a lot worse for her. After losing one of their own, he had decided that the pack was no longer responsible for her and that she should leave town to keep the people there safe.
In her sorrow and guilt she had been unable to argue with him, and had quickly put the house up for sale and left Forks within just a few weeks. With the money from Charlie's life insurance and the eventual sale of the house, she had spent the last couple of years on the run. Usually sticking to the sunnier places and never staying too long in one area, knowing that Victoria would only ever be a few steps behind her.
As she finished her story, Bella looked around the other occupants of the room, tears gathering in her eyes as she waited for them to tell her should leave, that they didn't want or need her problems.
Instead to her surprise, and to the surprise of everyone that knew him, Spike appeared in front of her, crouching down to her level and looking her dead in the eyes.
"We'll protect you, pet," he said after exchanging a quick glance with all the others, "You're safe now."
If we could take the time
To lay it on the line
I could rest my head
Just knowin' that you were mine
So if you want to love me
Then darlin' don't refrain
Or I'll just end up walkin'
In the cold November rain
Bella looked up and waved as Lorne called a greeting to her as he passed by the science department.
It hadn't taken her long to feel comfortable here. They had offered her a small suite of rooms on one of the upper floors, insisted on it in fact, and Bella couldn't remember the last time she had felt so safe and comfortable. It helped that amongst other things, Spike and Angel both had their own suites just down the hall from her.
It had turned out that Fred was head of the science department at Wolfram and Hart and on finding out that science was one of Bella's strong points at school had offered her a job as a junior assistant. It was an entry level position but Bella enjoyed the work and it had helped her to feel like she wasn't just freeloading off her new friends.
She smiled to herself at that thought. Yes, they could definitely be considered her friends. Bubbly, chatty Fred who could always made her giggle over the nerdiest things. Gunn who was so serious when he was in 'lawyer mode', yet could totally kick most people's ass and always had a smile and a wink for her. Quiet, reserved Wesley who shared her love of books and was teaching her more about the supernatural world she had found herself in.
Her friendship with Lorne had surprised her most though. She had been uncertain about him at first, finding his green skin and red eyes intimidating and keeping a careful distance. Lorne had understood this and gave her the space she needed, but then he had wandered into the lab one day as she was working and just happened to be humming.
His shocked gasp was Bella's first indication that anyone was there and she had jumped violently as she had turned to see him there, a look of utter sadness on his face.
"Oh, honeypie," He sighed, taking a deep breath when he saw her confused expression, "Nobody told you what can do did they? I'm anagogic sweet thing. When someone sings, or even hums I can see things, their past, sometimes their future, the path they are meant to be on."
Bella had swallowed uncomfortably, her eyes beginning to prickle with tears. "So you saw…"
Seeing her lose the battle and tears streaking down her face Lorne stepped forward and pulled her into a hug. His arms wrapped comfortingly around her as she sniffled into his shirt.
"Oh sweetie, just know that you're definitely on the right path here. Now, are you doing anything that can't be left alone for a while?" He had asked, knowing the sensitive nature of things in the lab. When Bella had shook her head he had smiled brightly at her, linking her arm round his. "Well then cupcake, you're coming with me for a tiny while."
Not fifteen minutes later had seen Bella laughing uproariously as Lorne told her stories of the different people he'd met over a couple of cups of hot chocolate, and a firm friendship was born.
Bella smiled at the memory as her thoughts turned to the two vampires in her life, Angel and Spike, both enigmas in their own way.
Bella was sure that if you looked up the word 'hero' Angel's picture would be right next to it. Wesley had told her a lot about Angel's history in their informal supernatural lessons, and knowing everything Angel had faced and overcome gave her courage that she could do the same and overcome her own past. He was quiet and serious, and Bella felt honoured to know he counted her among his friends.
Spike was another matter entirely, and she didn't know how to feel about him. Well no, Bella knew how she felt; she just wasn't sure what to do about it.
Not a day went by without Spike popping into the lab at least two or three times just to say hello, or to perch on the edge of a table and annoy her for a while and as much as he sometimes drove her crazy, Bella enjoyed his visits. He was snarky and irritating, but he could always make her laugh, and he was undeniably attractive. It felt like there was a swarm of butterflies in her stomach each time she saw him.
She didn't acknowledge it though. She was honestly surprised that Spike would even want to spend time with her, let alone ever see her as anything other than a mission – someone he had to protect, so she just kept quiet.
With a sigh she turned back to her work, sending herself on an emotional rollercoaster every time she thought about Spike was not doing her any favours. Though she easily acknowledged that it was far better for her to be thinking about Spike, even if it was unrequited, than to be still dwelling on her asshat ex and his self-styled 'family'.
Finishing up the form she was filling in, she reached for the next one only to curse loudly as she looked at it. Someone, that could only have been Spike on his last 'visit', had seen fit to draw some sort of cartoon vampire bunny in the corner of it.
"Dammit Spike," Bella muttered, reaching for the pile of paperwork and rifling through it only to find each sheet with a different vampire animal painstakingly depicted on it, "Bloody hell!"
Lorne chuckled to himself as he heard Bella's shout from inside the lab he'd just passed. No doubt Spike had been up some of his usual antics. Angel had joked a few times that it was like watching a boy in a school yard, pulling on the pigtails of the girl he liked. It was obvious that Spike loved being around her, but Bella didn't seem to have a clue, her confidence issues not allowing her to see what was right in front of her. It wasn't often that Lorne wished harm on anyone, but he'd be happy to see that Cullen family get their just desserts for the harm they'd done to that sweet girl.
Gunn and Wesley had been tracking the 'family' as well as the nomad Victoria, and they had fund it relatively easy to trace the Cullens to being somewhere in upstate New York, but Victoria had been a lot harder to pin down. They kept getting her location, but each time the information had been a few days out of date as she kept moving on so fast. Both men were positive they would nail her down eventually, but right now it was a waiting game until she dropped her guard enough.
Until that finally happened Bella would have extra security assigned to her and never left the building alone. Unsurprisingly, Bella had put up a huge protest at first and even Spike hadn't been able to talk her round. Angel had stepped in then, and taken Bella away to speak to her privately. No one knew what was said between them, but when they returned she was no longer fighting them, and though she still objected if any of them tried to spoil her, she no had longer protested a single one of the security measures.
Lorne just hoped that the issues would be dealt with soon. Then they could start convincing Bella that she really belonged there as much as any of them did.
I know it's hard to keep an open heart
When even friends seem out to harm you
But if you could heal a broken heart
Wouldn't time be out to charm you
It was just two weeks later that the first issue was partially dealt with…
Bella was sat in Angel's office with everyone, munching Chinese take-out with everyone else who ate 'people-food' while Spike and Angel each had some blood. It had become a Friday evening ritual that they all enjoyed whenever they could manage it.
They were all laughing, listening as Lorne described some of his more eccentric clientele in the entertainment department, when the phone on Angel's desk rang suddenly.
Angel answered it and his gaze shot to Bella as the person at the other end spoke to him. "Go ahead and bring her up." He eventually said, making Bella freeze with her fork halfway to her mouth as she stared at Angel worriedly.
"It's not Victoria." He reassured her and Bella laughed sardonically.
"It's just got to be one of them then… let me guess, Alice?"
Angel smirked at her in reply and Bella leant forward and set her food down on the table and took a deep breath. "Okay."
Sounds of a scuffle in the hallway gradually reached them, and Bella stifled a snicker as she heard Alice screeching indignantly.
The door opened after a quick knock and two men entered, one of them a vampire Bella knew as Nate, was holding a struggling Alice with her arms behind her back. Bella stifled another laugh as Nate, who had acted as her personal security a few times, winked at her over the top of the diminutive cold one's head.
"What are you, and how are you stronger than me?" Alice whined, making Bella briefly lose the battle and snort, drawing Alice's attention her.
"Bella… what's going on? Why are you with these people and what are they?" She ended with a screech as she caught sight of Lorne.
"What do you want, Alice?" Bella stood up and stared down the cold one, her good humour rapidly disappearing. "Why are you here?"
"I'm here because I care Bella… you're in danger."
"You care? That's rich after the way you all left me… yeah, I've seen how much your caring really means."
"But we left to keep you safe." Alice whined, her eyes wide. Bella could only suppose that she was attempting to look innocent, or something along those lines.
"Well that worked out just peachy didn't it. Tell me, where the hell were you when Charlie was killed huh? How about Renee and Phil? Or when I spent two years on the run? You weren't bloody keeping me safe then. How is it only now that you're showing up, when I have help… or is all this just because I finally have real friends that are not you and your messed-up sodding family? Sorry Alice, I call bullshit on that one."
Spike smirked proudly. Bella wasn't even flinching as she faced down her past, and he couldn't help but enjoy the fact that there were more than a few moments that she spoke like him.
Alice stared at Bella, her mouth hanging open for a moment before she snapped it closed, rearranged her face into her standard pout, that vaguely reminded Bella of a puffer fish, and pleaded in a last ditch effort. "But Victoria is coming for you, you can't stop her alone."
"That's the thing though, Alice," Bella gestured around the room at everyone avidly watching the encounter, "I'm not alone, and I have all the protection I need thank you. I've moved on Alice and maybe it's time that you should too."
"I also think it's time that you leave." Angel said standing up from his seat at the desk.
"Oh, and Miss Cullen, Brandon, or whatever you choose to go by," Gunn smirked as he also stood along with the rest of the men in the room, "…If you bother Miss Swan again in any manner, then I will be forced to place a restraining order and sue you for harassment and personal damages, along with your entire 'family', and trust me…" His smirk widened "…I can make it stick."
"Ta, ta luv." Spike called out cheekily as the security guards forcibly marched Alice from the room, and Bella finally let loose with the giggles that had only threatened earlier.
No one had realised at the time that Alice's visit had set into motion events that would take place just six days later…
Gunn and Wesley were going over the latest information gathered on Victoria when Wesley's phone rang. Gunn watched as he answered and went pale as he loudly asked "Why the hell are we only finding out about this now?"
He snapped his phone closed and before Gunn could even ask told him, "Victoria has been sighted heading towards this area."
"How long?" Gunn asked as they left the room, heading straight for Angel's office.
In an old warehouse a small distance away, Bella moaned as she slowly came to. Her head ached and her mouth felt like it was full of cotton wool.
The last thing she remembered was shopping with Fred, and being talked into trying something on and then it just went blank. She assumed she'd been knocked out and hoped that Fred hadn't been harmed.
She fidgeted slightly and was instantly relieved to feel that her bracelet was still in place. It was only a plain silver one, fairly inconspicuous, but it had been a gift from Angel and he'd informed her that there was a tracking chip embedded in it. As long as she was wearing it they would always be able to find her.
Knowing if she could stall, then help would be on its way she feigned being still unconscious for as long as she could, until a high cold voice made her instinctively flinch.
"I know you're awake over there."
Bella cracked her eyes open, blinking against the sudden influx of light, and then as her vision cleared she saw Victoria, perched on a chair a few meters away watching her.
Bella said nothing for a moment, trying to gauge the situation before she made any attempt to stall, though now it was pointless to pretend she wasn't awake she finally shifted herself into a slightly more comfortable position on the concrete floor.
"Hello, Victoria." She said evenly. There was no need to push things, as tempting as it was to taunt the sadistic red-head. The longer she could hold Victoria off from attacking her, the more chance she had of her friends getting there in time for her to survive. She just hoped that they would realise she was missing quickly, because it wouldn't take them long to find her once they did.
"Well Bella, it's been a while. You were harder to track down than I expected, once you left that dreary little town. If it wasn't for that little dark haired fortune cookie coming to 'visit the pet', I might never have found you."
Bella couldn't hide the hiss of anger at that. Bloody Alice, just had to sod everything up…
"So, I guess you wouldn't have realised but I saw everything that day in Phoenix…" Victoria circled Bella slowly for a moment then darted in and backhanded her across the face, snapping Bella's head to the side, before she continued speaking. "I got away before your precious saviours got there and killed my James, but I saw everything he did to you," she smirked, "So perhaps it fitting that I start with this."
Bella couldn't hold in the scream as Victoria flashed closer again and stepped on her leg, easily snapping the bone there with a loud crack.
"Now…" Victoria started as Bella quieted down, gritting her teeth against the pain as beads of sweat broke out on her forehead. "Was that the same leg? I can't be sure, so maybe I should get the other one too…"
She laughed as Bella reacted, instinctively flinching away, her already broken leg preventing her from going anywhere. Smirking cruelly she raised her foot and Bella braced herself for the excruciating pain, only it never came.
In a blur of blond hair and black leather, Victoria was knocked away from Bella before her foot could make contact.
Bella almost sobbed in relief as Wesley crouched next to her, while the security guard Nate, and Gunn who was armed to the teeth stood over them protectively.
Angel had joined Spike in the attack on Victoria and she was no match for the two seasoned vampires. Though she was fast, as a team they worked seamlessly and quickly had her cornered and in pieces.
Spike pulled the zippo lighter from his pocket with relish and threw it on the pile of limbs, observing with Angel as they caught alight. "Well," he said after a moment of watching, "That was a bit anticlimactic… I thought she'd at least go bang or something, but no, just reeking purple smoke."
Bella snorted from her position on the floor, making Spike whip his head towards her. In an instant he was kneeling at her side. "Ah pet, that bitch did a number on you huh?"
He reached out and gently touched Bella's face where a bruise was already forming. His mouth opened to say something, but he was interrupted by a somewhat familiar shrill voice coming from the door of the warehouse.
"Bella… oh my god, Bella?"
"Alice, what the bloody hell are you doing here?" Bella snapped, as Nate and Angel moved into action, positioning themselves either side of the intruder, "Don't you think you've done enough damage by now?"
"Bella, I don't know what you're talking about." Alice replied wide eyed, glancing warily at the vampires either side of her.
"Your stupid urge to visit and stir things up is what led Victoria right to me." Bella laughed sardonically then, "But I'm guessing you knew that already."
"Is that true Alice?" A voice came from behind her, startling Bella and making the vampires in the warehouse growl in irritation.
"Who the bloody hell else got an invite to this party?" Spike snarked as he positioned himself between Bella and the newcomer.
"Jasper?" Bella called from her spot on the floor.
"Not another one of them." Spike muttered as Jasper leant far enough so he could see Bella's face.
"Hello Bella," He said quietly, "I'm sorry to be seeing you under these circumstances."
Bella nodded at him, awkwardly and he turned to face Alice frowning. "Was what Bella said true?" He asked her firmly, "Did you know that you'd led Victoria here?"
Everyone waited in silence for Alice to answer, knowing that she wouldn't be able to lie to Jasper no matter how she tried.
"Not when I arrived here." She eventually hedged, and the low growl that erupted from Jasper at her words surprised everyone.
"I didn't mean to okay!" Alice burst out, practically cowering under Jasper's glare, "I just wanted to see Bella, make her see that she belongs with Edward…"
She trailed off at another a warning growl, this time from Spike.
"Let me see if I've got this…" Bella spoke weakly, the pain taking its toll on her now. "You realised you'd led Victoria here, but instead of actually warning anyone decided to just let it play out, hoping to play the hero and then guilt me into coming with you, not really caring if I actually got hurt at all. Do I have that right?"
The guilty look on Alice's face answered for her, and Jasper growled again. "Of all the selfish meddling… Bella's place is here now Alice, and I won't allow you to interfere with that."
A smug smile crossed Alice's face and she opened her mouth, but Bella snorted disgustedly before she could say anything. "Don't even try it Alice, if you're about to tell me some shit about Edward and how he'll be upset or try to get himself killed, just don't bother. I didn't ask for you to come here Alice, and I certainly didn't ask for him to pull some sort of ridiculous Romeo and Juliet move. You're the sodding psychic… stop him yourself, or better yet, just let him do it if he's that eager to die."
Most of the people in the room snorted in amusement at that, including Jasper to Bella's surprise. Moving slowly, he approached Bella but stopped short as Spike's face shifted as he stepped forward.
Jasper held his hands up in a conciliatory gesture as he slowed down even further and crouched near Bella's undamaged leg, carefully taking her hand and kissing it before backing away. He had wanted to hug her but both her injuries and her extremely protective vampire made him think better of that idea.
"I am truly sorry for my part in any of this, Bella, and I'm real glad you're doing okay. They all care about you a great deal," he waved his hand at the group, and then indicated Spike, who was still standing behind Bella protectively, "And he has a lot of love for you."
He winked at Bella as she sucked in a breath, her eyes wide. He could sense their feelings for each other as clear as day, and giving them a nudge in the right direction was one last thing he could do for the girl he had been fully prepared to accept as a sister at one time.
Grabbing a sulking Alice from between the two vampires, he sent a final smile at Bella and disappeared from view.
Bella looked at Spike for long moment as he looked anywhere but at her. Eventually he couldn't help himself and when his eyes finally met hers Bella grinned despite the pain she was in.
"So you love me, huh?" She asked, a smirk that closely resembled the one Spike often wore on her face.
"I… um… well… that is…" His eyes darted about again, as he shifted uncomfortably. "Pull yourself together you bloody pillock." He muttered quietly to himself, almost making Bella giggle.
Finally he squared his shoulders, looked right at her and the urge to laugh immediately left her.
"You know what? Fine… I do okay. It wasn't how I was supposed to tell you, I wanted to do all that romance and flowers rot, but no. It just had to come spilling out didn't it… and I guess you don't so… let's not make a thing of it…"
He was pacing as he rambled, and Bella finally did laugh quietly for a moment before calling his name, softly at first then louder until she eventually got his attention and he stopped to look at her.
The first thing he noticed was her eyes. He'd never seen a gaze so full of love, especially not directed at him. He took in her warm smile, and then as he looked he realised how tired and pale she looked.
Dropping back to his knees beside her, he tuned out everyone else in the room and looked her deep in the eyes. "Love you, pet."
"That's good to know," Bella grinned as he huffed, then added, "I love you too."
The grin on his face was blinding as he leant in to carefully kiss her, mindful of her bruised face. His lips were surprisingly gentle as they brushed against hers once, then twice, and Bella had to resist the impulse to whine in protest as he pulled away.
Sighing happily she leant back, and then winced. "Now, can we please get me to a sodding hospital?"
And when your fears subside
And shadows still remain
I know that you can love me
When there's no one left to blame
So never mind the darkness
We still can find a way
'Cause nothin' lasts forever
Even cold November rain
Dedicated to my big brother, gone for four years today. You are the reason I am as nerdy as I am, and I love and miss you more than words can describe.
Massive thank you to Becky (mommy4thomas) as without her this story would more than likely never have surfaced. She encouraged it right from the start.