Feedback: Yes, thank you. Through Angel season 5.
Distribution: The Blackberry Patch and If you're interested, please let me know.
Summary: Fred is attempting to give Spike a corporeal body in season 5 of Angel, but things go extremely wrong… or is it extremely right?
Author's Note: Written for Eurydice 72's Williamficathon. The request was from tobywolf13 who requested Fred/William, no more than an R, a comedic/fluffy romance, time travel, Texas barbeque, and horseback riding Western style, with no character death, graphic sex, or slash. The fic sort of ran away from me and wound up being several short sections long.
Disclaimer: All characters are owned by Mutant Enemy (Joss Whedon), a wonderfully creative company whose characters I have borrowed for a completely profit-free flight of fancy. Kindly do not sue me, please, as I am terrified of you. Thank you.
Out of the Blue
"You sure about this, Fred?" Spike said, warily eyeing the machine in front of him. He poked a non-corporeal finger at one of its coils, but of course, it had no effect. "I still don't quite get how this is going to make me solid again."
"It's kinda difficult to explain," Fred said as she carefully checked the settings on a series of dials.
"Mind tryin'? I mean, I trust you. Course I do," he said, though when Fred's back was turned he seemed to be contemplating running out of the room. "But you're planning on using this thingamabob on me, and I don't fancy it burning a hole through my torso or some such."
"No torso holes, I promise," Fred said, giving him a reassuring smile. "Okay, I'll try to make it simple. See, my theory is that you don't have a body because your reality matrix has been subordinated due to your contact with the amulet's supernatural field of containment plus the power surge that occurred when the transdimensional portal in Sunnydale went kerplooey, so this device should reset your solidity quotient back to its original starting point by using traces of molecular particles that are forming your visual manifestation and magnifying them into a three-dimensional recreation of your earlier matrix calibration."
"The only word I understood in that was 'kerplooey,'" Spike said, his expression not showing the least bit of comfort. "Try again?"
"Sorry," Fred apologized. "It's like this. The amulet and the hellmouth both working together sort of messed with the fabric of reality."
"Fabric of reality?"
"Yeah," Fred said. "It's just a theory, but, see, we perceive reality only because we have the senses to take it in, right?"
"Okay," Spike agreed, not sure if he was following completely. "Example?"
"You know how people ask if a tree falls in a forest and nobody hears it, does it make a noise? Well, of course, somebody would hear it or feel it or sense it, and even then, the tree is or was a living thing, so something would know the tree fell, so, yeah, the tree makes a noise. The only way it wouldn't was if there was a total void, which theoretically isn't possible on earth."
"Uh, Fred? Not a tree," Spike said.
"Course not, silly," Fred said, moving to slug his arm playfully but then realizing it was pointless. "But you may have been in a void."
"Thought you said that wasn't possible…"
"Theoretically, no, but if a Hellmouth is imploding due to an amulet wiping out every bit of life for a several mile radius, well, I don't think scientists would have considered that permutation on the theory," Fred said with a smile. "So, essentially, when you… you know… uh…"
"Died?" Spike piped up. "Bit the big one? Kicked the bucket? Met the Grim Reaper? Shook hands with the great beyond? Went to Davy Jones' locker? S'okay, pet, you can use the word."
"Right, well, except you kinda didn't die because you were already dead and had been for over a hundred years," Fred said. "Anyway, you were essentially the tree falling in the void. There was no one there to see you fall, so you didn't, if that makes any sense."
"I don't count?" Spike asked.
"I think it has something to do with the amulet. You were within its field of power, and I think that messed up the perception of reality. Added on to that, the Hellmouth essentially blew up, and that created a multi-dimension power surge, so reality kind of ceased to exist around you for a split second, and that must have been just about the time you… died… or re-died. It's like a little hole in reality. But reality only blipped out of existence for a second or so, and when reality's fabric wove back together, you wound up in the amulet. Does that make sense?" Fred asked earnestly.
"Little bit," Spike said. "Right then. So I'm in the amulet, I get let back out, and I have no body but people can see me. Why?"
"See, I'm thinking that reality is still kind of blipping where you're concerned. You were at the center of the whole thing when reality broke down, so I think a tiny piece of that hole wound up inside the amulet with you, and it's been effecting how you're perceived and how you perceive, too."
"And since perception is reality, ergo, I don't quite exist?" Spike asked.
"Ergo?" Fred said in amusement. "People actually use that word?"
"Fred, you just used the words 'matrix calibration' earlier. I think you win in the word geek competition betwixt the two of us," he said, letting out a low chuckle.
"Well, anyway, you're pretty close to right. That void is also why the air around you has been a little warmer than usual. Reality is doing its best to knit back together again, and its creating a kind of low-level friction with its attempts, kind of like how if you want to warm up cold sheets when you hop into bed at night you rub your feet on them," Fred said. "See, the plus side is reality pretty much wants you solid because nature hates a void."
"That's good then," Spike said. "So how long does old reality have to knit-one-perl-two me back together."
"Uh… a while," Fred said, studying her shoes closely. "From the readings I've taken, about, oh, three or four… millenia…"
"But this machine should help!" Fred quickly consoled him. "See, you're not completely not solid. It's just that the reality hole is making your molecules spread out too much, but since we can see you, there has to be something there. Tree, forest, noise, perception of reality."
"Fred, people see things all the time that aren't there," Spike said rationally. "I lived with a girl for over a hundred years who did exactly that."
"Okay, so Drusilla was crazy, but she was the only one who saw those things, right?" Fred asked.
"Well, yeah," Spike said.
"Those are hallucinations. Unless all five hundred employees of Wolfram Hart you mooned last Tuesday at lunch in the cafeteria were involved in a mass hallucination, it's not the same thing," Fred said with a disapproving look.
"That was fun," Spike said, grinning devilishly.
"Nice butt, by the way," Fred said, and smiled a bit as she saw him go slightly pink. "Anyway, the deal is, this machine is like a big magnifying glass for reality. I'm going to catch a couple of your molecules in the crosshairs of lightbeams that will come from these six sensors that form a circle around you. Once I do, I'm going to give them a boost, and that should make your molecules kick the void out and squoosh back together again, turning you solid. There are just a couple problems."
"Aren't there always. Problem one, Madame Curie?"
"See, we need a bit more reality than a vampire's body would normally have. Since you're not quite alive but not quite dead, reality gets sort of messed up in your field anyway. And if we want this to work, we have to grab molecules that are living as closely within reality's rules as we can, and you haven't had those molecules since 1879," Fred said.
"I'm sensing that's a large problem," Spike said with a look of annoyance.
"Well, yes and no. See, all we have to do is set your molecules back to 1879."
"Set my molecules… back to… 1879… Fred, I hate to break this to you, sweetheart, but I'm not a bloody Swiss watch!" Spike yelled.
"No, but you're close," Fred said. "See, time doesn't stop existing once it's past. That's how memory works. It calls past events back into existence within the scope of the brain. All I need to do is convince your molecules to remember that time vividly enough and wham, bam, they'll sort of create a small field of that reality, and since reality is perception…"
"Then if my molecules perceive that it's 1879, it is 1879," he said with a grin.
"Or near enough. And this little beauty should do the convincing," Fred said, lovingly stroking the machine's metal casing.
"So what's problem two, then?" Spike asked.
"You know, just forget I mentioned problem two," Fred said. "It's just me, worrying about nothing and all like I usually do. The chances are so infinitesimal of it even occurring that it would be about the same likelihood of tap-dancing cheese."
"I left a wheel of cheddar in the fridge so long once that it could practically do the tango. Talk," Spike said, folding his arms stubbornly.
"Um," Fred said, not looking him in the eyes, "there's the smallest chance that the little tiny reality bubble around your molecules that contains 1879 will break and actually create a vortex to 1879."
"God, I hate science," Spike said in disgust. "No wonder all those physicists look like they're bonkers. So what's the outcome of that little scenario?"
"It wouldn't kill anybody or anything like that, but it might possibly send something really small back through time, like maybe a paper clip or a pin or something," Fred said.
"Or a disease microbe that wipes out half of London in the Victorian age and changes human history completely," Spike said angrily. "Nothing doing."
"You think I hadn't thought of that? The lab's been sterilized, Spike. There's not so much as a cold germ in here," she assured him.
"You're absolutely certain of that? No harm is going to come from this?"
"I give you my word of honor. I can't promise you this will work, because it is only a theory, but if it doesn't, there won't be any harm done," she vowed. "So, will you do it?
Spike paced back and forth for a minute, the tails of his duster flickering through the lab tables as he passed, his mouth squeezed into a tight line. Finally he paused, took a deep breath, and turned round to face her. Without another word, he quietly stepped onto the red X that marked the center of the circle of sensors, closed his eyes, and nodded.
"You won't regret this," Fred said, throwing a switch that started the machine humming loudly. "All you'll feel is a slight tingling sensation, and then, whoosh, back in your own body. Or, you know, not."
Spike opened his eyes to give her a rye look before saying, "Let's get this done, yeah? Got booze to drink, cigs to smoke, and Angel to deck before he realizes I can."
Fred shook her head with a laugh, then pushed the button to make it all begin. The humming of the machine increased in volume until it was nearly deafening, the sensors glowed a bright white, and then a loud bang was heard. One sensor exploded, then another, and another. Fred desperately tried to pull the plug on the machine while Spike looked around wildly, when suddenly a swirling double helix of light shot from the central meeting-point of the three remaining beams. It latched onto the first piece of living material it could find, engulfed it in rays of blinding orange light, and then disappeared as fast as lightening.
Unfortunately, the only living material in the lab had been Fred.