Please read Choices before starting this story, it'll make a lot more sense. Standard disclaimer applies: the BTVS/AtS characters belong to Joss. Everyone else is mine. Feedback is very appreciated.
Choices 2: The Reckoning
Prologue - Previously...
One of the girls Buffy didn't know the name of picked them up at the airport. At Slayer Central, they were ushered into Giles' office.
"Giles, you have 'end of the world' face. What gives?"
"We've discovered recently that Potentials are being intercepted before we can make contact," Giles replied somberly.
"By who? How are they even finding them?" Buffy queried.
"I imagine by the same methods the Coven is using to find them for us. I don't have to tell you how very bad it is for untrained Slayers to fall into the wrong hands…" he replied.
"I remember Faith in Sunnydale, Giles," she retorted.
"It's Wolfram and Hart, isn't it?" Spike guessed, though it was more of a statement than a question.
Giles narrowed his eyes at the blond vampire. "Yes. How did you know?"
Spike met the Watcher's gaze. "Simple. They want to tip the balance back in their favor, and they're slick enough to lure innocent girls into their scheme. Those children don't have any clue why they're suddenly fast and strong and receivin' nightmares, and Evil Inc. shows up with all the bloody answers. They'll swallow it hook, line, and sinker."
"Know all about that, wouldn't you?" Giles replied, antagonistically.
"Giles…" Buffy warned. She laced her fingers with Spike's, to make her point clear on whom she chose. Giles turned his attention back to Buffy.
"I called you here, Buffy, because we must get proactive about the situation. These girls must be brought in before Wolfram and Hart can corrupt their gifts."
"We've been locating them for two years, Giles. How many more can there be?"
"That is a fact we're trying to ascertain. In the meantime, we're dispatching Slayers in teams of two, the ones that are field ready, to any location a new Slayer is rumored to be. Only you and Faith…and perhaps Spike…are guaranteed to defeat rogue Slayers in combat, so we need you to take charge of the mission, along with Faith. Supervise the teams and join them if they encounter another Slayer."
Internally, Buffy's doubts about her decision to share her power reared up again. Had she really chosen to have Willow do the spell for the right reasons?
"I don't want to leave Dawn alone at home for an extended time," she said, though there wasn't much strength in her objection.
"I'll stay in L.A., Slayer. The Bit will be fine. Someone has to be around, anyway, while Angel's gone," Spike stated.
She turned to him. "Can't Connor take over? You're an asset to me."
He understood what she was really saying. I want you with me. "He's just a kid, luv. He's a good fighter, but he's not ready to handle the city on his own." And I promised Angel I'd keep an eye on the pup.
Buffy nodded, knowing he was right. "So much for a fun summer," she pouted.
Faith was the go-to gal for the US, and since Buffy had some experience in Europe, Giles wanted her coordinating with the Slayers there. Xander and Willow were working with the African and South American teams, respectively. Before going back to L.A., Spike had an idea of where they could start.
"Home sweet home, eh?" Spike said to her as they disembarked the plane.
"Rome was never home," Buffy replied, taking his hand as she slung her carry-on over her shoulder. "You said you have a friend here?"
"More of a contact," he replied. "But I have a hunch she can help."
Spike spotted the limo and tugged her along, Buffy quickening her pace to match his long strides. She always had to take two for his one when he got going at a good pace. He greeted the driver in Italian, who opened the door for them. Buffy was tugged inside before she could look around much. She was surprised to see a voluptuous dark-haired woman sitting there, though Spike didn't bat an eye.
The woman put out her cigarette and smiled. "It is good to see you looking well, amico mio And this must be your Buffy?"
Buffy had never liked how the Italians pronounced her name: 'Boofy'. It sounded ridiculous, and made Dawn laugh every time.
"Illona. This is Buffy Summers, Slayer." Spike then glanced at Buffy. "Illona runs the Rome branch of Wolfram and Hart."
"And we're meeting with her, why?" murmured through clenched teeth, glaring at her boyfriend like he was nuts.
"You took care of the Immortal last year. I should thank you for that," Illona interjected. "He was…a rival, of sorts."
"Glad to be of help," Buffy replied sarcastically.
Spike rolled his eyes and got down to business with the CEO. "We have it on good authority Wolfram and Hart is recruiting the new Slayers. Resourceful gal like you, I'm betting you know exactly who has their fingers in the pie, and who's heading the project."
Illona smiled knowingly. "I had a feeling this is why you called. Always business, hmm? How is Angeloos?"
"Same as always. But I'm sure you know that, too, pet."
The brunette chuckled. "Always good to be appreciated for one's talents…" She glanced out the window, considering. "I can help you. You have accommodations? I have plenty of room at my villa. It is free of big ears, so to speak."
"We have a place," Buffy cut in, squeezing Spike's knee just a little too hard to let him know she meant it.
Illona shrugged. "Very well. Call me in a couple hours, bello, and I'll have what you need."
Yeah, I'll bet she will, Buffy thought. If Spike thinks he's going alone…
"Thanks, luv." They reached Trevi Square. "You can let us out here."
Illona wrapped her knuckles twice on the glass separating them from the driver, and the limo stopped. "Ciao!"
"Why did we get out here?" Buffy asked, as the car drove away.
"You're planning to stay at your old apartment, yeah?"
"Yeah… You know where it is?!"
Spike took her hand and started walking. "I told you we stopped by to see you when you were dating the Immortal…"
"Oh. I didn't think you'd remember just from one time a year ago."
He stopped and locked eyes with her. "I remember everything when it comes to you, Slayer."
She dropped her eyes and blushed. "Oh…"
Buffy let them inside with her key. It was early for a Roman summer night still, and Andrew didn't seem to be home. Framed sci-fi movie posters dotted the walls where she had once had a few cheap paintings.
"Andrew stays here alone, right?" Spike asked.
"As far as I know…"
He leered at her as he wrapped an arm around her waist, pulling her in. "So, he has a guest room just waiting and lonely…"
Buffy rolled her eyes. "We're supposed to meet your friend in a couple hours."
"And what better way to wile away the time? You know you wanna…" he replied, grinning lasciviously. That tongue roll behind the teeth thing always got her hot.
"Well…" Buffy found they'd already wandered down the hallway towards the bedrooms while he'd been convincing her. Spike unerringly found the doorknob to what used to be Dawn's room and kept walking backwards through the doorway, nibbling on that spot on her neck that turned her into an instant lust puddle.
She straddled him as he fell back on the bed, and stripped her tank top off. In the months since they had first resumed this part of their relationship, they'd always had "making love" type sex. No matter how frenzied their foreplay might start out, Spike always slowed it down by the time they got to the actual deed. Oh, he always got her off a time or five, but Buffy was starting to wonder if he'd ever just take her against a wall again. She wanted him to feel free to just let go with her…and she knew why their sex life had started out different this time. God, she knew why, and she'd never felt so cherished or precious, but…
Thoughts of riding him at a gallop faded as Spike flipped them over and did that swirly thing around her nipple with his tongue. The way he could play her breasts, she could come just from that, and a couple times, she had. Buffy's eyes rolled back as he slid down to feast on her. She'd do anything he wanted if he just kept touching her…
His lovingly whisperedBuffy as he slid home never failed to make her heart jump.
Buffy awoke a couple hours later alone. Damn vampire! He did that on purpose… She hurriedly dressed and raced towards the door, just in time to see Spike come in with a takeout bag.
"Where's the fire, luv?"
She pulled up short and tucked her hair behind her ears, trying to look nonchalant. "Nowhere. I just thought, um… Did you already go without me?!"
Spike pulled an envelope out of his coat pocket. "In a manner of speaking, though it was only as far as the nearest alley. Had to be careful, you know. And I picked up dinner." He carried the bag into the kitchen, Buffy hot on his heels to get the envelope. "You raved about the baked ziti, so…"
"What does it say?"
His eyes twinkled with amusement. "Patience, Slayer. You can afford to eat first."
"Fine. I'll eat, and you tell me what she had for us. Anyone in Rome I need to kill?"
"As a matter of fact…"
Illona had given them a single sheet of paper, a list of names. It detailed the name and office location of the project head, and all his subordinates. Buffy faxed the list to Giles. They only had a location for the man in charge, so they'd have to wait for Giles to start finding the others.
In the meantime, she coordinated with the European Slayers by phone and email, redoubling their efforts to follow up any hint of a "newly strong girl" in any town. There was a lot of work ahead, but it was a start.
The next night, Buffy and Spike flew out of Rome for L.A. For Buffy, it would be a short stop to pack a bigger suitcase and arrange a substitute teacher for her day classes, before she headed right back to London.
"This sucks," she repeated, pouting.
Spike kissed her forehead, then her nose. "It's only for a week, luv, then you'll be back enjoying the Hell-A sunshine."
"I know… It's just, it's summer, and I don't wanna be responsible… Why do I have to be the go-to Slayer?"
"Because you're the best," he replied with absolute certainty. "The time will pass before you know it, with all those meet-n-greets the Watcher has planned for you."
"Will you call me at bedtime?" she asked coquettishly.
Spike gave her his dirtiest grin. "I'll even tell you a story."
"Last call for Flight…"
He pulled her in for a short, breathtaking kiss. "Go. I'll be here in a week to pick you up."
Buffy smiled apologetically and hurried for the gate before the attendant closed the doors. She blew him a kiss as she boarded the private flight.
Hopefully, they were running out of new Slayers yet to be found.
It's been four months since I told Angel to go home (in a note), and ten since I left Los Angeles. In the six months we'd been gone, I'd managed to harness what I could learn from the demon, and the changes to my brain. The benefit to having a metaphysical memory dump from all the Aurelians was that I had knowledge to call upon at will, if I could take that leap of faith and access it. So, I did, and I've taken care of myself.
And found the one person in the entire world that could help me. Well, demon. The semantics don't matter. He knew that I was coming, which was weird, since I didn't exactly ask around. I suppose you know lots of things when you have that much power.
I trekked to the caves under the cover of darkness – sunlight still hurt my eyes – and the big lug with his glowing eyes was waiting for me.
"I know what you seek, little one."
"Really? Saves me time asking, then. What do I have to do?" I asked.
"You've already faced your trials. I am prepared to give you your reward, if you still want it."
"Of course, I do. I never wanted the crazy bitch in my head in the first place."
Lurky led me deeper into the cave system. He judged me worthy, obviously, since I didn't go up in flames. Still, I knew to be wary of how he would interpret my desires. He stopped and pointed to a stone table.
"You really like to chatter on and on…" I responded. I get snarky when I'm nervous. The look he gave me said he wasn't amused.
So, I complied and lay down. He touched that gigantic paw to my forehead, and OW! Searing pain, then unconsciousness. When I awoke, I was back at the nearest village, and it was day.
At first, I thought he gypped me, for I still had the extra perceptive senses.
Son of a bitch!
Our agent acted as was meant for you.
"Who said that?" I said aloud, though I knew my ears hadn't heard the voice.
You know in your heart. You are our emissary.
"Couldn't I just have my life back? It's what I wanted!"
And you can still go home, Charlotte.
I could. I was free. Different. New.
"So where does the newborn go from here?" I asked.
Follow your heart. You will know when you are needed.
Bloody Powers That Be. Hey, the quote fits. Could they ask if they wanted a seer? I could go anywhere in the world, but Los Angeles is tugging at me. We have unfinished business.
Spike sat in his leather recliner watching "It's A Wonderful Life" on TV. It was two days before Christmas, his shopping was taken care of, demon activity was quiet, and he had a fresh six-pack of cold beer. One night to himself before two days of Summers' Christmas frenzy.
"Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings."
His doorbell rang suddenly, the old push-button type with an actual bell inside that came with the old building. He grumbled, set his beer on top the television, and opened the door, thinking it was probably Buffy. You could have knocked him over with a feather. He hadn't heard from the woman before him for four months.
"Hi, Spike," Charlotte said softly.