Chapter Forty-Four: Farewell
Sire and Childe
The vampiress stepped across the threshold of Angel's living quarters, looking around the small apartment with a slight smile. She had spent so much time here. He came into view with a questioning frown on, but soon he returned her smile.
"Still not used to sensing you in... the other way," he said and her smile widened.
"Yeah," she said. "It's a bit weird, I guess."
"Yeah, a bit," he agreed.
They grew silent.
She suddenly noticed the lack of personal objects on the shelves and the pile of folded clothes on the bed. When she turned around she saw the boxes. She furrowed her brow, looking back at him.
"You're moving?" she asked.
"Yes," he replied.
She was stunned.
"Wow. Why there?"
"Well, 'cause when I was there I saw this great old building and it got me thinking that maybe it's time for a change of scenery," he answered, looking away from her as he walked up to the bed, checking the three piles of clothes before reaching down and pulling out a suitcase from under the bed.
"Wow," she murmured. "I mean, it's good. It's a good thing."
"I think it will be," he said, putting the clothes in the suitcase, closing it before turning back to her.
"I think so, too," she said slowly, smiling warmly at him and after a moment he returned it with as much emotion.
She came close to offering her arms in a hug, but changed her mind, and left with an odd sense of liberation within her. She hadn't realized how badly she had felt for him, how guilty she had been over what she had done to him, how things had turned out, and now he looked as determined as ever to move on, move forward and upward and onward, no doubt. She was happy.
Spike waited for his childe at the curb, having had a seat, expecting it to take longer, being ready to give her ten minutes before intruding. She came out after less than five. He rose, knowing that he looked quizzical, but she merely slipped her hand into his as though it was the most natural thing in the world, and said:
"Thanks for letting me do that."
"If I'd said no I could anticipate blows to the head and bloody chains in a hostile environment, so it wasn't so much letting you as it was self preservation."
She laughed, and he felt good hearing it, it was like a testimony to what he could see in her eyes when she looked at him – the truth to everything she was saying to him, all the promises she seemed to hold for him if he would only ask her for them.
The night was still and cold, but inviting for creatures such as them. Looking at her as they walked down the street, her hand still in his, he came to the conclusion that his salvation lay in her not embracing the nature of her demon. He wouldn't feel this budding contentment with himself, with her and the world they occupied, if she hadn't pushed him to understand that the demon was not where he began and ended, and that she refused to allow it to take over and blind her into thinking the way he did. Her strength was bringing him strength to face himself, to see that where he had been brought by circumstance was not where he had to stay, that it wasn't the end, that it couldn't be the end if he still had the ability to choose, and what an easy choice it was with her by his side.
They entered a cemetery and he looked around, halting in his tracks not too many steps inside the gate, making Buffy stop as well; her eyes searching for his wonderingly.
"What?" she asked.
"I live here," he replied, her eyes widening. "The other me live here," he elaborated.
"Oh," she said, smiling a little. "It's kind of nice. Quiet."
"Yeah, well, I'm not moving into a bloody crypt so that's the last of that," he stated, making her stare at him at the marked impatience that had suddenly flared into his voice. "What are you thinking, that you'd live at home? Come see me in the evenings and forget about the rest of the buggering world? Can't do that. And you can't go back, love. You can't stay in Sunnydale and think that your normal life will come back to you, and you can't expect me to stay here with you. Bloody hell, don't expect that of me."
"I don't," she said calmly, but he didn't hear her.
"There are about a million and a half bloody places that I want to show you; you can't sodding tie us down here," he went on and she held his gaze steadily as she repeated:
"Yeah?" he asked, skeptically.
She smiled again.
"I wouldn't expect you to stay here."
Her smile widened slightly and he watched her face curiously.
"What?" he asked.
"Well," she smirked, "what's the first of the million and a half?"
"First choice is yours, pet," he answered as she slipped her hand in his again and they resumed their walk.
She thought about it for a short while before she replied:
He glanced at her.
"You have the pick of the world and you choose somewhere you've already been?" he inquired.
She smiled crookedly.
"I just want to stop in on Zack and tell him about my progress. As a vampire goes, I think he'll be impressed."
Spike smirked, shaking his head at her.
"London, then," he agreed.
"And then someplace warm and secluded," she smiled, moving close to him and slipping one hand under the duster, across his chest, looking up at him with an invitation that he couldn't refuse, slowing his step as his lips caught hers in a deep kiss.
"Sounds good," he said, mouth still to hers, and she giggled as he lifted her and made her wrap her legs around his waist, carrying her off the beaten path and into the shadows resting beyond it.
"But, why?" Willow asked, eyeing her friend in clear trepidation at the news.
"Will, everything's different. I'm different," Buffy began, her friend shaking her head.
"You're not so different. Don't you ever feel the urge to just go out and slay something evil and sticky?" Willow wondered hopefully, growing disappointed at her friend's hesitant expression.
"Look, I can't stay here and try to be what I was before. Kendra's here to take my place. As the Slayer," Buffy felt compelled to clarify off the reproachful look she received from Willow. "I'm really sorry if this wasn't expected," Buffy tried again.
"It wasn't," Xander cut in, though his face was set and he looked more grim than ever before.
"It's not goodbye forever," Buffy said. "I'll come back and visit you. Often."
"How will you live? How will you even get by? Stealing money? That's what he does, you know. Steals," Willow said, looking as though she regretted her harsh words instantly, but the pain in her eyes was evident and Buffy felt as though her heart was breaking with her.
"We'll manage," she replied to Willow's question.
Giles huffed, though he refrained from saying anything else.
"You guys, you're my blood. You're more important to me than anything in the world, and I can't go away thinking that you're angry with me," she said, reaching out her hands and taking Willow's, her eyes traveling to Xander's and then Giles'.
They wore their stony expressions for another few moments before they finally looked as though her words were actually penetrating through their indignation and disbelief and sense of loss, and that they were tentatively trying to look at it from her point of view. She knew that they disliked her choosing Spike over them for a second time, but if they could only be able to see that she belonged with him more now than she belonged with them, then perhaps they would be able to forgive her.
She felt Giles' hand place itself on her shoulder, giving a slight squeeze and she looked up at him, mirroring the slight smile he wore.
"Come back and visit often," he said and her smile broadened.
"Cordy will be devastated that she didn't get to wave goodbye," Xander remarked with a half-smile as they walked up to the door.
"Oh, yeah, when's she coming back from...?" Buffy trailed off since she had no idea where Cordelia had gone for the holidays.
"I don't know," Xander stuttered. "I mean, I was just pointing it out, that she'll be 'devastated', 'cause she won't care. Not that she doesn't care. Not that I would know. First day of school, I guess she'll be back from wherever."
Buffy frowned, narrowing her eyes and he kept his gaze in hers for about three seconds before he glanced away. She smiled widely.
"I'll miss you," she said, hugging him tight.
"It's Christmas in three days," he murmured.
Willow came up and joined them and Buffy wrapped an arm around the waist of either of them.
"Yeah, can't you stay over Christmas?" Willow asked.
"No," Buffy replied earnestly.
"Clean break, huh?" Xander wondered quietly and Buffy tightened her hold on them, fighting back the urge to cry.
"New start," she corrected him. "Besides, I've a demon inside me; I can't sit around in church singing Christmas carols!"
This made the other two laugh tearfully, wrapping their arms around her and each other in a hard group hug.
That evening they stepped onto the porch of the house to say goodbye. It was more difficult than anything she had been through so far; Buffy looking at her mother and thinking how strange it truly would be to not see her every day. It didn't matter that they had already spent time apart, this time it was so much clearer an emotion, not blurred by cravings and urges she had had no control over the last time she left her mother behind.
It was a little windy, and Buffy felt her locks ruffled by a breeze as she handed her small bag of clothes to Spike, him stepping off the porch to give her and her mother some privacy. The vampiress wasn't sure when this more considerate side to his nature had began to show itself, but the last couple of days that they had spent in the house it had shown itself frequently. She smiled slightly at his back before turning to Joyce.
"So," Joyce said, touching her daughter's hair with one hand. "I knew this day would come, I just thought I'd be sending you off to college."
"I'm sorry, mom," Buffy said.
"No, never say that," Joyce shook her head. "I'm very proud of you for not killing a single person, even though you can," she added earnestly, the both of them looking at each other before smiling widely at the absurdity of that sentence.
Buffy wrapped her arms around her in a hard hug.
"I'm going to miss you so much," Joyce murmured, Buffy feeling tears rise.
"Me, too," she said, pulling away. "I won't be gone long. Maybe a month or two. Then we'll be back."
Joyce looked over at Spike where he was waiting at the curb, his gaze meeting hers and she smiled slightly, offering a nod, which he returned.
"You'll look after her, won't you?" she called to him.
"She doesn't need me to," he called back, his smile growing and Joyce turned her eyes back in Buffy's, kissing her on the cheek before hugging her again.
"Look after yourself," Joyce said, and Buffy blinked at her tears as they parted once more.
"You, too," she replied, turning and hurrying off the porch before she prompted on staying for another few weeks.
She was excited about the road ahead, full of anticipation at discovering places she had only ever read about. And she was looking forward to seeing Zack again, and meeting more of Spike's acquaintances. But she knew that she would miss Sunnydale something terrible, and she was happy when she saw sympathy on Spike's features as she came up to him.
"You okay?" he asked as she swiped the remaining tears out of her eyes.
"Yeah," she said. "Where are we going?" she added as they got moving.
He didn't quite answer her, but led her through the streets until they reached the old industrial area, where she began to have a vague idea of where they were headed, and she was right: soon they were outside the factory where he and Drusilla had been shacked up during their stay of terror. She was about to ask what they were doing there, when he walked up to a low vehicle covered by a tarp. That the vehicle was a car, there was no question.
He pulled the tarp off, revealing a black Camaro, its windows covered with paint. She smirked, meeting his gaze.
"Classy," she remarked and he smiled, opening the door and tossing her bag in, making a gesture for her to follow it.
She did, closing the door as he took the driver's seat, reaching under it and pulling out a key, which he stuck unceremoniously into the ignition and twisted once, the engine growling itself to life.
"How long has this been here?" she asked.
"Dru never liked it," he answered. "She insisted on travelling by foot when she got better. Bloody nutter that she was. Ironic, if you think about it: now we can use it. Don't expect she saw that one coming."
Buffy observed him for a moment as he paused and then he smiled.
"Guess she did," he then said, his eyes in hers and she smirked as well.
The car began to move, driving away from the factory in a manner of closure, as though their leaving Sunnydale was a cleansing act that would strip them bare of any residue pertaining to the old, leaving them in that much better a position to greet the new and it would be made up of colors Buffy felt she had yet to only glimpse. This was the beginning of everything, and here, at the beginning, eternity stretched out its welcoming hands, and she reached back in the assurance that she would get to explore it with him.
She hadn't believed that he would do this, that he would change for her after all the vehemence he had put into telling her exactly how little she should expect it; but now he sat beside her, his hand reaching over, his fingers linking themselves with hers, and she knew that nothing would stop them, they were too strong together.
She smiled as she looked out the window, her eyes reading the sign that they were just passing.
You are now leaving Sunnydale.
We hope you come back soon.