|Story Title:||Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?|
Early morning hours, Sunday, June 28th, 2004 in the Rome!Universe
Joshua "JJ" Harris was born on April 21st, 2004
The twins (Danielle, "Dani" and William, "Billy") were born on February 12th, 2004
Annie turned five on February 14th.
Spike and Buffy have been married five years in February. (seems longer, doesn't it?)
Buffy turned 23 on January 19th.
All the Potentials were endowed with full Slayer power in February 2003.
Buffy and Spike learned of the other dimensions in May, 2003.
Buffy and Spike get the bond back… Rome!Buffy and Rome!Spike are married and have done the claim, as well, but now Angel has 'kidnapped' them, coerced them into helping him bring down evil ... bring down the Black Thorn.
Heartfelt thanks to my "ET" and wonderful Beta,
her wonderful suggestions, corrections and encouragement!!
Promises, Def Leppard
Pop Culture Reference:
Monty Python – Three Questions
This story involves jumping dimensions to the Universe where Angel and his team work for W&H - where Buffy visited before and sent Spike to Rome to be with the Buffy in that dimension. In lieu of calling it the "EvilJoss!" Universe, which is what I normally call it in my own mind, I'm calling it the "Rome!" Universe.
Where characters cross over (where the same character from both universes are in the story), I will differentiate the ones from the Rome Universe by calling them Rome!Spike or Rome!Buffy, for example. If, however, only one of the characters is present, then I won't make that distinction ... I hope it doesn't get too confusing. If it does - please email me and let me know so I can change it in future chapters.
I know that, in canon, this time frame is after NFA on AtS … Things changed in the other universe, too, when Spike left for Rome.
Keep in mind the following:
Rome!Spike was sent away from W&H and to Rome by Buffy before the following happened:
|Rating / Warnings:||
NC17. Content is only suitable for mature adults. Contains explicit language, sex, adult themes and other adult situations that some people may find objectionable. If you are under the age of 17 or find any of these themes objectionable – GO AWAY. Parents, it is up to YOU to control what your children are reading.
Early morning hours, Sunday, June 28th, 2004
After Rome!Willow got over the shock of seeing Tara and calmed down a bit, she and Tara and Willow went in search of the ingredients to make the magical tea that she used to help Rome!Spike communicate with Buffy across dimensions in their dreams, leaving Spike and Buffy alone in the conference room.
Spike led Buffy over to the couch in the corner of the room and pulled her down to sit against him as they waited. Buffy snuggled against him, resting her head on his shoulder as he wrapped a strong arm around her and held her tight to his side.
“Buffy,” Spike started quietly, “when this dream thing is done, you need to leave here,” he told her, his free hand coming to her lips and his fingertips pressing against them softly to stop her from objecting.
“Listen, luv. I’ve been alive a bit longer than you, and dead a lot longer than that. I don’t exactly have a reputation for being a thinker. I follow my blood, which doesn’t exactly rush in the direction of my brain, so I make a lot of mistakes. A lot of wrong bloody calls, but this isn’t one of them. You need to leave – go somewhere safe, out of the line of fire. One of us has to survive this, luv … you have to survive this for our family.”
Buffy shook her head slowly as Spike spoke, tears threatening her eyes and she closed them to fight the flood back. Buffy pulled his hand away from her lips and held it in hers before opening her eyes and looking up to meet his.
His eyes were just as blue as that first night they were together and she still felt like she could lose herself in them. She wished she could just dive into their depths and drown in those deep pools of azure at this moment and escape the impossible situation they were in. She sighed … wishes and horses …
“We both need to survive … the best chance of that is if I stay and fight, too. We’re always better when we’re together … we can watch each other’s back …” Buffy pointed out.
Spike shook his head slowly. “No … you need to go, get to a safe place until the fight is over … then find your way back home. Don’t look for me – if I make it, I’ll find my way back to you. I’m like a moth to your flame, Buffy – I can always find you, luv.
“The babies need you, Annie needs you … our family needs you to get home to them. I told Faith once that I was your willin’ slave, and I am … but you need to do this for me now. I need your word that you’ll leave and take care of our babies – you and them – that’s all that matters to me – you are my world. Please do this for me, Buffy.”
Buffy closed her eyes and buried her face against Spike’s chest as tears fell from her eyes. “Come with me … we’ll both leave – we’ll find a way back after …”
“No, Peaches would never stand for that … he’d send the PTB or the Senior Partners or the bloody Terminator after us if we both left. … I can get him to see reason ‘bout you leavin’ – I’ll make my scary face – he’ll come ‘round,” Spike argued.
“Spike, I don’t think I can do it without you … please, please come with me,” Buffy begged him.
“You can do it – you’re stronger than you sometimes think, luv. You’re the Slayer … she who stands alone against the demons … you can stand alone against the PTA, too, pet … although, that’d probably scarier than the demons …” Spike quipped, trying to get a smile from her and it worked.
“Can’t slay the PTA …” Buffy pointed out with a small smile.
“Well, maybe you could just take out one or two of ‘em … bet there’s more than a couple that are actual demons …” Spike told her with a smirk.
“I love you, Buffy,” Spike said softly, changing to a serious tone. He touched his fingers to her chin, lifted her face to his and took her lips in a soft kiss. “You and Annie, William and Danielle – you are all I have – over a hundred years of walking this earth and our family is the one thing I’ve done that I’m proud of. When I get to the Pearly Gates and St. Peter asks me why he should let me in, I’ll point to our family and hope he has a bloody short memory …”
“I don’t think they actually ask you … I don’t remember being asked … I don’t remember any gates, at all …” Buffy informed him in all seriousness.
“Couldn’t just let that go, huh? Let me have my little fantasy ‘bout that …” Spike asked with a sigh.
“Sorry … I’m sure … I’m sure you’re right. Now that I think about it, there were gates – big gates – all white and shiny – like alabaster, and this long, golden bridge! And this old English guy goes, ‘Who would cross the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three, ‘ere the other side he see,’” Buffy informed Spike.
“Did he now … and what were the questions?” Spike asked cocking one brow.
“First he asked what my name was,” Buffy informed Spike. “Then he asked what my quest was … then he asked for the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow …”
“Ahhh, did he now? And what did you tell ‘im?” Spike questioned with a smirk.
“Well, of course, I
asked him if it was an African or European swallow …” Buffy told Spike with a
small smile. “Then he just let me in…”
“Ahhh, I see … and this old man, he wouldn’ve looked like the bridge keeper in ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’, now would he?” Spike asked with a small smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.
Buffy shrugged. “Well … maybe,” she admitted returning his smile. Buffy hugged tighter against Spike’s side and laid her head back down on his shoulder as her smile faded. “Please, let’s not find out … please come with me,” she whispered to him. “I love you so much. Please, let’s just run …”
“Buffy, it won’t do, luv … you know it – you know I’m right. Make me this promise … you have to make it now,” Spike admonished her.
Buffy nodded her head sadly as tears flowed down her face anew. I promise, she told him through their bond and Spike dropped a soft kiss on the top of her head and held her tight as they sat in silence and waited for the witches to return.
“Ok,” Willow told Buffy and Spike later, “you just drink this and think about the person you want to contact – which would be Annie, of course. I say the spell and you’ll go into kind of a hypnotic state and wake up in Annie’s dreams. When you’re ready to come out, you wake yourself up by just saying the words ‘wake up now.’”
Buffy and Spike nodded and drank down the astringent liquid that Willow had made in one fast gulp before they both laid back on the couch. Spike laid on his back and Buffy on her side, laying half on him and half on the edge of the couch, her head resting on his shoulder. When they were comfortable, Willow recited the spell that Rome!Willow had taught her. As soon as the last word was out of her mouth, Buffy and Spike were both instantly asleep.
Buffy and Spike walked hand in hand through a playground, but it wasn’t a normal playground … everything in it seemed to be made of chocolate. It was like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory merged with Nestlé and had exploded onto the playground.
The grass under their feet was made of chocolate shavings and it crunched with each step they took; the monkey bars were made out of chocolate coated pretzel sticks; there were “tire” swings, made out of Reese’s cups that had the centers eaten out of them, leaving just the outside ring of chocolate and little bit of the peanut butter and they hung on one of the few non-chocolate things there … Nerds Rope Candy.
In the center of the playground was a fountain, which had … of course, Yoo-Hoo chocolate drink in place of water and Cadbury chocolate coated marshmallow fish swimming, jumping and playing in it.
“This is definitely your daughter’s dream …” Spike remarked to Buffy as they continued walking past a large Hershey’s chocolate syrup lake where living animal crackers were sailing on rafts made out of Kit-Kat bars and past a flower bed where each flower was actually an iced cookie with colorful M&M’s on top …
“Not a bad dream …” Buffy remarked as she reached over and picked one of the flowers and took a bite. “Mmmmm … homemade chocolate chip cookies with butter cream icing and M&M’s! God, why don’t we just stay here!?”
Spike smiled at her and used the pad of his thumb to wipe some of the icing off the corner of her mouth. An image of them skinny dipping in the chocolate lake flitted briefly across Spike’s mind as he licked the icing from his thumb and he sighed. Perhaps another time … now that they had their bond back, they could share their dreams again – he was pretty sure this place would be in Buffy’s very soon.
A dark shadow seemed to cross his expressive face as he thought of what they’d gone through to get their bond back and how short-lived the victory would be as they faced Angel’s impending apocalypse. It seemed that Angel in every dimension was always conspiring to bring them down, cause them pain or kill them … or all three.
“What are you thinking?” Buffy asked as she finished the cookie.
“Nuthin’ … Where do you suppose our daughter might be?” Spike asked, looking around and hoping to distract her from her original question.
“I don’t think Angel’s doing it to spite us, Spike,” Buffy told him. She didn’t need the bond to know what Spike was thinking at that moment – the expression on his face was enough to tell her.
“Pffffttt,” Spike snorted. “I wouldn’ put it past Angel to start a bloody apocalypse just to spite us! That sounds like sumthin’ the wanker would do!”
“He thinks he’s doing the right thing … and maybe he is,” Buffy defended. She wasn’t sure why she was defending him, she had been fully prepared to stake him just a few hours ago. Spike rolled his eyes and started walking again and Buffy fell into step beside him. “I’m not saying the way he’s going about it is right … he had no right dragging us, or even the Buffy and Spike from his dimension into it, without asking … but he thinks he’s doing the right thing for the world by bringing down the Black Thorn.”
“So, the end justifies the means?” Spike questioned her; the question coming out perhaps a little more harshly than he intended. “As long as evil suffers, it’s ok that we have to suffer, too … as long as evil dies, it’s ok if we’re dust in the wind with it?”
“No …” Buffy started. “That’s not what I mean. I’m just saying, I think that Angel thinks he’s doing the right thing. I don’t think he did it just to fuck us over.”
“Six o’ one … half dozen o’ the other and you still get the same thing, luv. We’re fucked,” Spike pointed out. “And he didn’t even put on any lipstick – just bent us over and buggered us in the …”
“Ok – I get it, Spike,” Buffy interrupted him – not really wanting a visual of Angel with lipstick doing what Spike was getting ready to describe.
“There she is!” Buffy exclaimed, happy for something to change the subject. “Under that pavilion!” Buffy told Spike, pointing to a large pavilion that was filled with rows of picnic tables. The structure appeared to be made of chocolate Lincoln Logs and it jutted out over the chocolate lake.
Buffy took off running towards the pavilion, sending chocolate shavings flying up off the ground and into the air with each step, and Spike took off after her.
“Annie!” Buffy yelled as she approached the pavilion and Annie looked up from a large picnic table that was covered with every type of chocolate dessert imaginable.
“Mama!” Annie cried and ran towards Buffy, meeting her just at the edge of the pavilion. Buffy scooped her daughter up into her arms and twirled her around before pulling her into a tight hug and raining kisses down on her face as Annie giggled and squirmed in her grasp.
“Papa! Help!” Annie exclaimed when Spike got there a second later.
“Oh no, Niblett … Big Bad’s gotcha … there’s no hope for ya now!” he told his daughter with a laugh. Buffy planted one last kiss on her daughter’s forehead before she handed her to her father.
Spike pulled Annie into a tight hug against his chest. He closed his eyes and fought back the tears that threatened him as he buried his face in his daughter’s long, dark, curly hair. She smelled of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo and Tutti Fruiti bubble bath with a touch of lavender thrown in, the last probably added by Tara before she’d left to come find what was keeping them.
“Come see all the food!” Annie told them as she wiggled to get down out of Spike’s grasp. Spike set her down on the ground and Annie grabbed a hand of each of her parents and pulled them into the pavilion and over to a picnic table that was covered in chocolate decadence.
“Wow, Niblett … did you make all this?” Spike asked as he surveyed the table. There were cakes and torts and brownies and cookies of every description … puddings and mousse and ice cream and glasses of regular and chocolate milk to drink.
“Noooooo,” Annie told him, rolling her eyes and putting her hands on her hips. “I’m not old enough to cook.”
“Ahhh, ‘course not …” Spike agreed as he sat down on the picnic bench facing out. “We need to talk to you a minute, Niblett,” Spike told her as he picked her up and sat her down on his lap, her back to his chest.
Buffy sat on the bench across the aisle from Spike and Annie, leaned forward, took one of Annie’s hands in hers and looked into her child’s big blue eyes. Buffy looked up from her daughter’s face to Spike’s … the eyes were the same color blue, the high cheekbones her daughter had were undeniably Spike’s, as was her curly hair.
Buffy could see her own nose and mouth reflected back to her from her daughter’s face. The monks hadn’t lied … she was made from them both and the older she got, the more evident it was – not only in her looks but her mannerisms, her sense of humor and wit and her smarts … which Buffy figured she must have gotten from William … ‘cause it certainly didn’t come from her.
“Annie, sweet girl,” Buffy started, looking back into her eyes, “you know we love you very much, don’t you?”
“I love you, too,” Annie said with a smile as she nodded.
Buffy smiled sadly at her daughter. “We know you do, honey. Now, you need to remember something for us, ok – it’s very important. Do you think you can do that?”
Annie nodded with a serious look on her face as she concentrated on what her mother was telling her.
“Annie, I want you to remember that we are so very proud of you, that we love you with all our hearts and we would stay with you forever if we could,” Buffy told her daughter. “Will you remember that?”
Annie nodded solemnly.
“You need to be good to Dani and Billy, ok? Don’t pick on them because they’re younger … you need to watch out for them, protect them and love them 'cause you're the best big sister in the world. Can you do that?” Buffy asked her daughter.
Annie nodded again.
“And you need to mind Aunt Anya and Uncle Xander, ok? You treat them just like they were us … ‘cause they love you just like we do. They’ll do everything to protect you and make you happy and give you a good life … so you be good to them and respect them, ok?” Buffy instructed her daughter as tears spilled from her eyes.
“What does that mean?” Annie asked quietly, looking between Buffy and Spike with questioning eyes.
Buffy dropped down to her knees in front of her daughter and took both her hands in hers. “Honey, it means that …” Buffy’s voice broke and she closed her eyes to fight back her emotions. She felt her bottom lip quiver and tears flow out of her eyes, despite her best effort to stop them.
“It means,” Spike picked up for Buffy, “that you and Dani and Billy may need to stay with them for a bit … and, while you’re there, you need to mind them and love them jus’ like they were us,” Spike told her. “But your mum will be back to get you soon, Niblett.”
Annie considered this a few moments before looking up into her father’s glistening eyes. “But where will you be, Papa? Aren’t you coming back?”
Spike dropped is head backwards, pursed his lips together and took a deep breath before looking back into her eyes. “I’ll do everything I can to come back, sweet girl … ‘cause I love you and your mum and the babies more than anything … you know that, yeah?”
Annie nodded as tears welled in her eyes. She turned in Spike’s lap and wrapped her arms around his neck. “Don’t leave … please don’t leave,” she begged him as he wrapped his arms around her and held her in a tight hug. “We missed you when you left before … Mama cried all the time and I tried not to … but I couldn’t help it. Please, please don’t leave. Promise you won’t.”
Spike had no idea how he could make that promise to her … and he had no idea how he couldn’t – but he couldn’t lie to her, not about a promise. He’d broken his promise to Buffy once before and he vowed to never do that again – not to Buffy and certainly not to Annie. If she couldn’t depend on his word, then what could she depend on? If there was one thing he wanted his daughter to remember about him, it was that he kept his word, because there are times when that’s the only thing you have.
Buffy laid a hand on her daughter’s back, dropped her forehead onto Spike’s knees and sobbed as her daughter begged him not to leave them – something Buffy had been doing for the last couple of hours herself. She prayed that he would promise Annie he wouldn’t leave … if he made that promise, then Buffy knew that he would keep it. It seemed strange that the only person she knew with 100% certainty would keep his promise was a vampire … a vampire with a soul … a vampire with a poet’s heart.
“Listen to me, Niblett,” Spike started, pulling Annie back so he could look into her eyes. “I. Love. You,” he told her empathically. “Don’t you ever forget that – no matter where I am, that’ll never change. You can be sure that I’ll do everything possible … and a few things that are impossible, to get back to you … that I promise you.
“Now, you promise me sumthin’,” Spike told her. “You promise that you’ll remember that I love you and I would never leave you if there was any way I could help it … and you promise to be good for your mum and you give her hugs everyday – one for you and one for me if I’m not there, yeah? Is that a promise?”
Annie nodded slowly, the meaning of his words not lost on her. Tears fell from her eyes and her bottom lip quivered as she tried to hold them back.
“I love you, Papa,” Annie told him softly. “I’ll take care of Mama for you while you’re gone … but please come back soon.”
Promises, Def Leppard
Last night I was blown
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