They walked back to the plane hand in hand in silence. Well, what did he expect? That she would've peppered him with questions the whole way back? Waiting for her to come out of that cave had felt like an eternity. Would she have even come out to say goodbye? Perhaps Drogyn would have brought him word that he'd somehow have had to pass back to Angel: return flight to LAX, one passenger only.Spike knew the resolve in her face; he'd seen it, hell, he'd felt it: the sad knowledge that grasping on to a recycled life instead of no life at all was a fundamental weakness; feeling the emptiness of it, the waste, and then the hope that it would finally be relieved of you. Surely Drogyn had given her the chance. Something had changed her mind.
"You're holding something for me," Fred finally interrupted their silence on the plane. "Can I have it?"
He tilted his head at her looking puzzled for only an instant before he opened his arms to her. She crawled inside and sobbed, finally letting out some of the pent-up emotion he'd seen stirring underneath her surface for so long.
"I'm sorry, love. I'm so, so sorry. Wanted to save you more than anything, no matter what that ruddy gatekeeper might have told you."
"He didn't tell me about that. He barely told me anything at all. What about this, Spike? Can anyone tell me about this?" She pulled off her borrowed t-shirt with shaking hands and he saw what no one but she had yet seen about her body, the thick lapis blue veins throbbing along her breasts and torso, too severe and too strange to ignore. "Who'll want me now?"
Seeing the pain in her eyes from her body so marred this way, he averted his gaze to pull a blanket over her that lay on the back of her seat. Her hands stopped him and her eyes never left his face. "Am I that ugly?"
"Of course you're not."
"Touch me?" she asked, the pleading of her voice seeping into his heart. "Please touch me. What are they?"
"Scars, that's all they are." He let her guide his hand to the quivering flesh of her blue-lined stomach. "Got plenty of 'em myself, see?" He took her hand and traced it along his left eyebrow. "Medals you wear for getting out alive."
"Are you glad I'm alive?"
"Show me," she whispered and leaned into him.
If only those veins could be as ugly as she thought; perhaps they would be to any man-not-vampire. Stroking the silkiness of her newly regenerated skin, much like the map of rivers and valleys that rushed past them out the plane window, Spike realized how much he ached to explore this landscape of hers.
For all of it and for more he wouldn't think on, he let himself be kissed. A glorious thing, full flush with her victory over his reluctance, she pulled him into what they both wanted. She swirled her tongue against his in pure pleasure as her gentle insistence met with his surrender. I could lose myself in this girl, he thought and basked in the feeling for one sweet moment.
She took his fingers away from her stomach and eased them under the waistband of the jeans – his jeans that she wore – past the curls of her mound, parting her legs to where she dripped wet for him, and thrust three fingers deep inside. Both of them gasped at the sensation and she rocked her pelvis desperately against his hand.
"There's all kinds of friends," she moaned against his mouth. "I want you to be this for me. So do you, I can tell."
That's how he found himself on top of her, pulling his pants off of her, sprawling her across the aisle. Taking her first with his fingers and bringing her off with a wail, then with the whole rigid length of him, her nails imbedded in his hips and crying out as she wound her limbs around him. When he came, his teeth clamped down onto his tongue, filling his mouth with blood that he swallowed in grateful relief. She scurried out from under him and he sat up quickly, pulled on his clothes and collapsed into one of the seats, smoothing his hair back and feeling his cock weep inside his pants. His tongue still throbbed from the bite, but the pain distracted him from feeling anything else. Returning dressed and somber from the bathroom, she sat next to him and fastened her seat belt. A few quiet minutes passed. She rested her head on his shoulder and slept for the remainder of the flight.
Ending: Ordinary Time
"They'll be waiting for us," Spike woke her gently as they touched down back at the Los Angeles airport. "The Black Guard doesn't go home empty handed."
"You just love sharing good news, dontcha?" she sighed, not moving her head from his chest. "They'll take me first. I'm the one they want."
"Don't go down without a fight, yeah? Take out a couple for me?"
"You betcha I will."
"That's my girl."
"He would've done it, wouldn't he?"
"Don't know," Spike said. A brief vision flashed in his mind, miles of dead bodies stretching across the freeways of Los Angeles and the plains of Texas, cutting a swath of death across the ocean to the opening of the Deeper Well, where Fred would have recovered to see what love had forged in her wake. "Can't say."
She leaned over him and peeked out the airplane window. From the look on her face, he knew what waited for them. She pecked him on the cheek and hurried away.
In the faint light of pre-dawn, he watched her march down the metal steps to her captors, kicking one dead center under his ribcage and cross-punching the other across the face and snapping his nose. More guards filed out of the black vans with no weapons, but with restraints, one grabbing the back of her neck while another snapped a cuff around her ankle. With a strangled cry, she reared her free leg backwards and managed to catch the guard behind her with the heel of her boot, sending him skidding across the cement. They descended on her then, pinning her to the ground and binding her hands and feet together, and carrying her struggling to the back of one of the vans.
"Show's over, Mr. Spike," he heard the pilot say from behind him and felt a steel cuff clamp down on his wrist. "Now I know you don't want to risk daylight to give us any trouble." The co-pilot pressed a menacing hand on Spike's shoulder.
"Well, well, well. Ain't this a surprise. Why'd your lot bother letting us go over there in the first place?"
"We hoped you'd keep her over there. That would have been fine by us," the pilot said. "But you brought her back."
Spike heard the muffled groans from the injured guards and allowed the men to lead him out of the plane. "Yeah. Looks like I did."
Wesley spent a fitful night of troubled dreams, tossing and turning on his office's stiff couch where he had spent so many nights already with agonizing thoughts of Fred. Hehadn't been this distraught since the night she died, and his mind clicked through that dream he'd had, with Fred so close he could've kissed her, and why didn't he kiss her? Why would a man choose not to kiss his true love in his own dreams? She looked at him with such calm, such confidence, as if she'd already seen this day, her mouth barely moving the words, "This is only the first layer. Don't you wanna see how deep I go?"
"That's what I did," he called out, sitting up. "I found you. Didn't I find you?"
A different voice answered him. "You know, I can still pencil you in for Easter dinner. Nothing like a little pork roast to wash down the atonement for your sins."
"Get out of here," Wesley told the figure of Lilah, who sat on the armrest of the sofa.
"They're bringing her in. Just thought you'd want to know."
He sat up and combed his fingers through his hair, flattening down the cowlicks that had sprung up.
"Easy there, Romeo," Lilah laughed. "You know she really loved you for your mind."
"You did this!" he yelled at her. "You came here when I was vulnerable, exhausted, insane with grief. You led me to this!"
"Well, you're half right, honey. I'm in your head. So let's say we both did it and split the difference? I'm dead, Wes. You couldn't save me and before you get any more bright ideas, you can't bring me back, either." She moved next to him and put her hand on his knee. "But then I always was your second choice, wasn't I?"
When he looked up again, Angel stood in the doorway of his office.
Wesley turned his head quickly, expecting to see Lilah, but the space next to him was empty.
"You mean Fred. Yes, of course. I'll be right there."
"You can take off those cuffs," he heard Angel say in the hallway. "She's not dangerous."
"If it's all the same to you sir, we've got three guards down who will tell you different."
"I said take them off!"
Wesley came out in time to see the guards take the restraints off of Fred's hands from behind her back. When he saw the wrinkled black t-shirt and matching black jeans she wore, he had no illusions whose clothes she'd borrowed. Spike's outfit made her look even more like a stranger. The lead guard turned to Wesley and nodded.
"Fugitive apprehended, sir, as requested."
Fred turned around slowly, regarding Wesley with a cool and detached expression. She walked stiffly over to him.
"You betrayed us," said Illyria's voice.
"Where is she?" he hissed.
"Here. We both are here. Because of you."
"I want to see Fred!"
"You have always seen Fred. That is your greatest weakness. This is the result." Illyria walked away from them and down the hallway.
"My God," Wesley breathed. "However will she stand it? Being here, living that way?"
"She won't," Angel said behind him. "Fred's leaving for Texas in the morning. She said that she'll meet you before she goes."
Wesley watched as Illyria bent her head to the potted ferns next to the wall. "Meet me where?"
Wesley turned on Fred's favorite country radio station in hopes of lightening the mood. Oldies weekend was in full swing and after enduring "I Fall to Pieces" he knew that neither of them could stomach "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue." Fred smiled weakly at the first chorus and Wes shut off the music.
"You know I never intended…" he began. "When I sent out the Black Guard, I wanted them to find you, to return you safely, before you got hurt."
"I already got hurt, " she smiled clumsily. "Let's just get this over with."
Wesley nodded, his face masking into matter-of-fact concern, first flashing a penlight into her eyes. "Any change in vision?"
"Only the usual myopia. Hey, I remembered that word!" she grinned proudly.
He returned a small smile. "Hearing?"
"Clear as a bell."
"Your lymph glands are swollen. Your voice is hoarse. Any pain there?"
"Feels like I'm getting over a cold is all."
"What about sensate reactions?"
"Some delayed response in motor reflex. You can check it if you want to."
Lifting a small rubber mallet, he tested first her knees, then held up her arm into the light. Thin crusts of blue lined the creases of her skin, as though she'd been dipped in paint and scrubbed. He pressed her palm for the spasm of muscles that would curl her fingers over his thumb, over and over again, past testing the reflex until they approximated holding hands. Fred looked down at the contact and pulled her hand away, nervously rubbing it on the pant leg of her jeans.
"Well, I must say that I concur completely with the diagnosis. I'm relieved that he brought you to a real professional. A professional what exactly, I'm not sure," he put down the folder and rubbed his eyes behind his glasses.
"Wesley – "
"I appreciate you allowing me to do this. I wanted to see for myself, that you're all right. There's just one more thing." With tears in his eyes, he finally looked into her face. "Please don't leave me."
She avoided his eyes. "This isn't about me leaving anybody," she mumbled.
"When I think of the pain that I've caused you, I…" he shook his head. "I don't have the words to ask for your forgiveness."
She cocked her head at him. "Do you even know what you'd be asking it for?"
He looked at her in confusion. "I'm sure I don't know what you mean."
"When I was stuck, having my body out of my control while still being in it, I guess you did see that, in your own way. I—I wasn't at peace. But I could have been." Her eyes searched his face. "You could have done that, too, instead of what you did. Please tell me I'm wrong."
Wesley saw the yearning in her expression, felt it, and met it with his own. "You're not."
She nodded. "What you did? This wasn't for me. This wasn't anything about me. This was about you, what you needed. Trouble is, I'm the one who's going to have to live with it."
"So will I," he said firmly, taking her hand again. "Let me live it with you."
"Wesley. I can't. I can't try to convince you I'm that girl you built up in your head, 'cause I'm sure not her now." She released his hand and rubbed her fingers along the blue tint of her knuckles. "I'm not really sure who I am but I'm going to figure it out."
He lifted his head, blinking back tears. "Alone?"
"No," she said quietly. "I won't be alone. You don't want this, Wesley. Believe me."
"I love you so much," he choked. "My God, I feel like I'm losing you all over again."
"This cannot be helped." In an instant, he saw her eyes flash briefly to a brutal shade of blue. Wesley jerked away from her in shock.
"See?" she whispered sadly and the brown of her pupils returned with her own tears.
He'd lost her. Worse yet, he'd truly let her go. "Oh, my Fred. Can you ever forgive me?"
She shrugged. "I'm workin' on it."
Spike leaned against the side of Angel's beaten Plymouth and flicked ashes against the bumper. The big poof's orders, no company vehicles for this journey. Once he saw Fred enter the garage, he stubbed the cigarette under his toe and hurried to open the passenger door for her. Once he caught a look at her expression, he shut the door again.
"Let me guess. Here's the part where you tell me the field trip's off."
"No. Go on and open it. I need to leave more than ever now."
"Over," she said simply. "Here are some supplies for the road. Not so many stops that way." She handed him a portable cooler.
"I like a woman who comes prepared. Never did find out what sort of snacks you fancy." He peeked open the lid of the box. "But then I see this is for me, unless your diet's changed dramatically."
"I thought I heard you say once that you liked the lab's supply best," she said shyly and he saw the remnants of the girl he remembered from so many months ago, and from the one who kissed him senseless in midair.
"I did say that," he said. "Thank you, pet." He touched her arm. "Tell me you've already eaten your weight in hot fudge sundaes, would you?"
She shook her head. "Must be another perk of being bound to an old one, I guess. Food's pretty much off my radar right now. I'll be protein shaking it for a while."
They got into their respective sides of the car, Spike behind the wheel. "Got the map?"
"Sure," she smiled and pointed to her head. "Still here. I guess she left me something after all, the last little scrap of a trip long, long ago to a land far, far away. Like a fairy tale."
"Right. Guess you stopped believing in those," he ventured, reaching for the gearshift. Her hand caught his.
"Until somebody sort of rewrote one for me." She looked down. "Nobody thinks this is a good idea, do they?"
"Never put great stock in the word of the crowd," he replied airily. He paused. "No, love, they don't. Maybe it isn't. However will your lot survive an old Big Bad like me?"
"You don't have a thing to worry about, honey," she whispered, pulling him in for a hug. "Everything's bigger in Texas."
End of Good Friday.
The next title in this series will be called "A Place Called Home," where you'll see some more Spike, more Fred, and much more Illyria under the backdrop of a Texas sky at the Burkle ranch.
"I have learned much from being bound to a human. Its power resides not from a strength of the fist, but of the will. Its most valuable power appears to be the ability to inflict pain upon the will of another."
"I'm still human enough to show you a world of pain, highness," he growled. "Your will be damned. I'll make you bleed."
"You risk bruising the shell to retaliate against me?"
He loosened his grip on her shoulders and backed away. "You're not her. You forget I know that."
"I tolerate you because I have no alternative. Know this vampire: I am more interlaced into the woman than you can possibly conceive. You will have none of her without me."
He gritted his teeth. "'Least you're good for something."
Hope you will stay tuned and thanks for reading!