|Story Title:||Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?|
Shades of Grey
(In the Rome!Universe)
The late night of Sunday, June 28th, 2004
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.
The warriors and soldiers have beaten back the Senior Partners' army of hell ... but at what cost to their own ranks?
Heartfelt thanks to my "ET" and wonderful Beta,
her wonderful suggestions, much needed corrections and always
Shades of Grey, Billy Joel
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.
|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.
The Night of Sunday, June 28th, 2004
Andrew was finally able to get Buffy’s leg to stop bleeding, but every time she tried to move, it would start again.
“This is ridiculous!” Buffy told Andrew as he tried to stop the bleeding yet again, which had begun anew when she tried to stand up.
“I think it might have nicked an artery or something,” Andrew opined.
Buffy tried to look for other survivors as she sat on the ground, Andrew pressing the palm of his hand against her upper thigh. Rome!Giles, and any uninjured Slayers that had been with them, were tending others that had been hit by the demon shrapnel – but Buffy couldn’t see over the mass of demons that littered the alley to see if anyone else had survived.
She tried opening the bond with Spike, but got nothing – it was like a blank slate – she remembered the feeling well – it was like when he’d been knocked out and taken by the Initiative. She took comfort in the fact that at least she had that … she wasn’t sure what it would feel like if he was dust, but she was pretty sure it would feel different – like a chasm in her soul.
“Fuck this, Andrew!” Buffy exclaimed as she reached for Andrew’s belt and started undoing it.
“Buffy! W-w-what are you doing?! What are you talking about!? What about Spike!?” Andrew asked with wide eyes, as he sat down on his ass and started scurrying back away from her.
Buffy rolled her eyes and sighed heavily. “Give me your belt so I can put it around my leg and stop the bleeding … unless you want to walk around with me, holding your hand there … when we find Spike, I’m sure he’ll understand.”
“Oh … oh, yeah… ummm, right, I knew that’s what you wanted … of course,” Andrew stammered as he took his belt off and handed to her. “Oh!! This is just like in that book, ‘It’ … when the guy got stabbed in the leg with the letter opener …”
Buffy looked at Andrew like he’d lost his mind. “You read a book called ‘It’?”
“It’s by Steven King,” Andrew defended before shrugging. “Giles doesn’t have much of a selection in novels … it was either that or ‘Heidi’… and he doesn’t even have a TV!”
“Sounds dire,” Buffy told him sarcastically as she tightened the belt around the wound. It hurt like hell, but she had to get up and find Spike … and any other survivors.
Obviously, the soldiers had no idea what those concussion grenades would do to the demons. They normally use those to prevent injury to ‘friendly’ personnel in close quarters … but they had a completely different effect on the otherworldly demons than they would on humans – turning them into hell-beast shrapnel instead of just dropping them in their tracks.
Buffy pushed herself up, using Andrew’s shoulder to steady herself, and tried to get her bearings and her balance. Her head was still spinning slightly from the loss of blood, but the tourniquet on her leg was holding.
Buffy closed her eyes and concentrated on finding Spike through the bond … he still felt blank, but she could feel him – he was near the hotel. Buffy opened her eyes and looked around for her sword. When she saw it lying on the ground on the other side of Andrew, she snapped her fingers and pointed at it.
Andrew bent down, picked it up and handed it to her. “This harkens back to days of yore, when a knight and his faithful squire would go …" Andrew started.
“Andrew!” Buffy exclaimed, stopping him.
“Right,” Andrew said, twisting his lips to the side and rolling his eyes.
Buffy started walking gingerly, putting as little pressure as possible on her injured leg, towards the hotel.
“Do you want me to come with?” Andrew asked pensively.
“No … you help Giles … I’ll be back,” Buffy told him without turning around.
“I’LL BE BAAAK,” Andrew repeated her words in as deep a voice as he could muster, mimicking Arnold Schwarzenegger from ‘Terminator.’
Buffy turned back and shot him a look, shaking her head and rolling her eyes. “You’re such a geek, Andrew,” Buffy informed him before she turned and started walking again.
“Thank you …” Andrew called after her, a proud smile on his lips. “Give Spike a hug for me when you find him …”
Buffy tried to walk around the mass of dead and dying demons in the alley, but there was no way to – they covered every inch of real estate between her and the hotel, so, she just started walking on top of them. The rain had finally stopped, but everything was still wet and slick – covered in water and blood and … ewwww, what is that?
She fell more than once, trying to step from one dead demon body to another, cursing under her breath with each step and each misstep, as pain shot up from her thigh and seemed to cut through her like a knife. She used her sword like a ski pole, sticking it in the nearest demon and using it to steady herself as she went.
Buffy stopped periodically and concentrated a moment, adjusting her trajectory across the sea of blood and guts and scaly demons, to head directly for where her senses told her Spike was. She was soaked to the skin, her hair plastered to her head, her clothes were covered with blood and…and that ‘ewwww’ stuff. She tried to brush her hair back away from of her face and out of her eyes with the back of her hand … the only part of her that at least didn’t have that stinky, unidentifiable grunge on it, as she continued to move slowly towards the hotel.
As she stood atop a particularly large demon and closed her eyes to concentrate again, the demon began to growl and move under her feet. Buffy’s eyes flew open and a frown creased her brow as she raised her sword up over her head and came down hard on what appeared to be the demon’s neck.
“Shut up! Can’t you see I’m concentrating here?!” she yelled at the demon as it slumped lifelessly back to the ground. “God! I get no fucking respect,” she muttered to herself as she closed her eyes and concentrated again. He was close … she could feel Spike’s presence strongly now.
Buffy began to move faster, ignoring the pain that shot up her leg as she jumped from beast to beast towards her husband. Then she saw it – the black duster, almost buried between piles of dead demons – and she nearly flew the last ten feet to him. He was laying on his stomach, seemingly curled over something beneath him. The back of his duster was covered in holes from the demon shrapnel and blood covered his whole back and ran down to the ground, forming a puddle beneath him.
“SPIKE!” Buffy screamed as she reached him. She was afraid to flip him over, so she began pulling the dead demon bodies away from where he lay and hurling them back so she could get room to get down next to him.
“Spike … Spike … God, Spike …” she cried as she got an area around him cleared. Buffy got down on her hands and knees next to him and put a hand on his shoulder – then she noticed what it was he was covering – it was her … or not her, but her counterpart from this dimension.
“Oh God …” Buffy exclaimed. “Spike … Spike can you hear me?” she asked him, her mouth near his ear as she felt under him to find Rome!Buffy’s wrist and check her pulse. “Spike, please …”
“Buffy …” he moaned, his voice barely audible.
“Baby, I’m here … I’m here. It’s ok, it’s over…” she assured him as he put a hand on her leg and tried to push himself up. Then she saw it … his hand … his left hand … it didn’t have the scar – there was no scar! This wasn’t her Spike!
“Buffy …” Rome!Spike moaned again as he rolled onto his back and screamed in pain as the shards of shrapnel in his back got embedded deeper.
“Spike! God!” Buffy cried, as she moved around and helped him sit up.
Rome!Spike looked up at her … his eyes unfocused, his mind dazed and confused … then he looked down at Rome!Buffy on the ground. He tried to listen for her heartbeat … but couldn’t make it out. “Is she…is she alive?” he asked, looking back at Buffy.
“Yeah … she’s alive – knocked out, I think. I don’t see any wounds…” Buffy assured him.
Rome!Spike leaned forward and put his hands over his ears and closed his eyes. “What’s that bloody racket?” he asked as he covered and uncovered his ears, trying to get the sound that was pounding in them to stop.
“What racket?” Buffy asked, looking at him with confusion. Other than a demon moaning now and then, the alley was perfectly silent.
“That bloody pounding sound! Donchya hear it?” Rome!Spike asked, looking back up at her.
Buffy shook her head slowly back and forth, looking at him with a furrowed brow. Maybe the grenades had ruptured his ear drums or something.
“What does it sound like?” Buffy asked him, laying a hand on his neck and leaning in closer to see if she could see anything wrong with his ears.
“Ba-boom… ba-boom … ba-boom …” Spike mimicked the sound pounding in his ears.
Buffy’s eyes went wide as her hand touched the bare skin of his neck. “You’re … you’re warm!” Buffy moved her hand to his carotid artery … he had a pulse! “Oh my God! You Shanshued!” she told him, her eyes wide with surprise. “That sound is your heart beating!”
“Bloody hell …” Rome!Spike muttered as he put a hand against his chest … sure enough – he could feel it … his heartbeat. Strong and steady – something he hadn’t felt in over a century. He pressed a palm against his forehead … it was warm. “Bloody hell …” he muttered again. “I’m the signified monkey, after all …” he said with awe, looking at Buffy.
Buffy smiled at him as tears welled in her eyes and she nodded slowly with a small smile. “You’re a Champion, Spike …”
Rome!Spike started to stand up and Buffy helped him to his feet. He climbed up onto a tall pile of dead demons and stood atop them, like the king of the hill.
“FUCK YOU, ANGEL!” he screamed to the sky, holding his arms up in triumph, his voice echoing down the silent alleyway. “AND THE HORSE YOU RODE IN ON!”
Emergency vehicles from the Army had started arriving and the alley was beginning to fill with people. The Army was trying to get the demon bodies removed from the alley before any reporters arrived … but it was an impossible task, so they just cordoned off a five block radius – not letting anyone in or out, except to transport the wounded to their hospital.
Rome!Spike told Buffy the last time he saw Spike he was over near the hotel – under the fire escape. Buffy’s throat tightened and she looked up the fire escape, afraid that she’d see Spike falling from it at any moment – but he wasn’t on it.
Buffy closed her eyes and tried again to sense him, but all she could feel was what she now knew was Rome!Spike. Even though he had Shansued, their souls were still intertwined – his presence still tingled down her spine, and she could feel him through the bond. So, she started walking towards the fire escape from her nightmares … she hoped that wasn’t an omen.
Buffy found Willow and Tara further back from what had obviously been the frontlines. Other than some superficial wounds, and being pretty traumatized by the events of the day and night, they were alright.
As Buffy continued moving towards the hotel and the fire escape, she came across Illyria and Wesley. Wesley had been badly injured … a deep gash covered his chest and he looked like he’d been beaten with a baseball bat from head to toe.
Illyria was holding him, trying to give comfort to the one person that had tried to help her adjust to this world, despite the fact that her presence here meant heartbreak for him. Buffy knelt beside them and checked the gash on his chest and his pulse before standing up and looking around for some of the medics that she’d seen earlier.
“I’ll get help,” Buffy told Illyria when she spotted a couple of medics over near Willow and Tara. “But you better leave … these Army guys don’t see in shades of grey …”
When Illyria didn’t move, Buffy knelt back next to her. “He’ll be ok … he’s just unconscious … lost some blood, but he’ll be ok,” Buffy assured the ex-god. “You really should go … go in the hotel and stay there … I’ll make sure Wes knows where you are.”
“You are an unusual being,” Illyria told Buffy, as she passed Wesley over to her. “A Vampire Slayer that sees shades of grey … such a thing is frowned on, is it not?”
“Yeah, well … I’m the James Dean of Slayers …” Buffy told her with a small smile.
When Illyria just tilted her head and looked at her blankly, Buffy said, “James Dean …‘Rebel Without a Cause’? Never mind …
“I’ll take care of him – he’ll be ok, trust me,” Buffy assured Illyria holding her arms and taking Wesley from her.
“I do not know this James Dean, but I would like to meet him,” Illyria told Buffy as she stood up. Illyria jumped easily up onto the second floor landing of the fire escape and disappeared into the hotel.
Buffy stood up with Wesley in her arms to take him over to the medics, when she felt something inside her leg rip. She collapsed as her leg gave way and blood began pouring out of her wound again. Buffy tried to keep her eyes open … but her head was suddenly spinning and she thought she might throw up. The last thing she remembered was Rome!Spike picking her up before she lost consciousness.
“Florence bloody Nightingale …” Rome!Spike muttered as he hurried her to the medics. “Gotta save every git in the bloody alley, dontchya?”
Spike ducked and covered his ears when the concussion grenades began going off. The demons began rushing, en masse, towards the Champions who occupied the north end of the alley behind the hotel, as they tried to get away from the dangerous bombs being lobbed at them by the soldiers. Spike backed up and pressed himself against the wall of the hotel, under the fire escape, trying to keep from being trampled … but then he saw Wesley, trying to fight his way through the hellish stampede.
“Watcher!” Spike called to him, but Wes couldn’t hear him. He was being knocked around like a ball in a demon pinball machine – bouncing off demons as they rushed past. Then grenades began landing behind the Champions, driving the demons back.
Wesley was knocked to the ground, and the hell-beasts trampled his body, their clawed feet cutting and slashing him as they rushed past.
Spike pushed off the wall, his sword in hand, slashing his way through the demon horde as they ran away from the explosions.
Demon shrapnel filled the air and hit Spike in the back, arms and head as he made his way towards the ex-Watcher, turned rouge demon hunter, turned corporate librarian. When Spike reached him, he hefted Wesley over his shoulder with one arm, defending them with his sword in the other, and began to make his way back through the gauntlet to the safety of the fire escape.
They were spun around, hit and slashed over and over as Spike made his way back to the building, but Spike kept hold of Wesley and managed to stay upright until they were within a couple of feet of the wall. Suddenly, a large demon arm swept at them, knocking Spike headfirst into the brick wall of the hotel. He and Wesley slumped down to the ground against the wall; Wesley unconscious and Spike barely holding on.
Spike heard the explosions stop and the alley went deathly still … he tried to sit up, but his head began spinning from the blow he’d taken and he collapsed back against the wall with Wesley’s limp body half atop him. Spike struggled to remain lucid and awake … but he was losing the battle.
The last things he remembered before passing out were someone picking Wesley up off him, then Spike felt like he was being dragged along the ground by one arm. He tried to pull away from whatever it was, but he had no strength left in his body; he tried to see what it was, but he couldn’t get his eyes to open; he tried to send a message to Buffy through their bond, but he couldn’t get his brain to focus, and then everything went dark.
Buffy’s eyes fluttered open and she squinted against the bright light of the Army hospital room as she tried to look around and get her bearings. Her eyes stopped when they saw Tara sitting in a chair next to her bed and Buffy reached a hand out towards the witch.
“Buffy!” Tara exclaimed, when she realized her friend was awake. “You really scared us!”
“I seem to be doing that a lot lately …” Buffy quipped, but it came out as barely a whisper.
“Spike?” Buffy asked Tara and Tara shook her head slowly as tears welled in her eyes.
“We couldn’t find him … Giles said if … if he … well, that there might not be anything to find …” Tara told her, taking hold of Buffy’s hand.
Buffy closed her eyes and nodded as tears welled behind her lids and slipped out the corners of her eyes. She concentrated hard on getting a message to Spike or sensing him, but she was still getting that feeling of darkness…which didn’t really make sense – if that was the other Spike she was feeling, since he had seemed okay the last she saw him – she shouldn’t be getting a feeling of empty darkness from him.
Buffy took a deep breath and pulled herself upright in the bed and her head began to spin again. Buffy closed her eyes and breathed deeply, willing the nausea and dizziness away.
“You shouldn’t move, Buffy – you ripped your artery open … you have stitches … inside and out!” Tara warned her.
“I have to go back. Get me some clothes,” Buffy told her as she pulled the IV out of her arm and the monitoring leads off her skin. All the machines in the room started beeping and nurses started rushing into the room.
“I’m leaving now,” Buffy informed them as she swung her legs over the edge of the bed and slid down to the floor. When Buffy’s wounded leg took her weight, it nearly buckled under her and Tara had to grab her around her waist to keep Buffy from crumpling to the floor.
“You’re in no condition…” one of the nurses started before Buffy shot her a death-ray look.
“Get. Me. Some. Clothes,” Buffy insisted through gritted teeth.
Tara looked at the closest nurse with pleading eyes. “Please?” Tara added, as she helped Buffy stand up straight and Buffy began testing her leg to see what it could withstand.
The nurse nodded and turned to leave, taking the rest of the nurses with her. “Take me a minute,” she informed them as she stepped out the door.
“How’s everyone else?” Buffy asked as she tried walking on her own across the cold floor.
Tara took a deep breath, walking next to Buffy in case her leg gave way again.
“We lost Charles and Willow …” Tara began and Buffy’s eyes went wide.
“Willow!? I saw you with Willow – she was fine!” Buffy exclaimed, turning towards Tara.
“The other Willow…this dimension’s Willow,” Tara hurried to explain.
“Oh God … Buffy, Buffy must be ...” Buffy couldn’t even think of a word that would encompass what she would feel if her best girlfriend had died in the battle.
“She’s pretty upset – in shock, really …” Tara agreed as tears welled in her eyes again at the memory of Rome!Willow dying in her arms.
“Faith lost several Slayers … and Giles, our Giles, was badly injured,” Tara continued, fighting back the tears. “But he’s okay ….” she hurried to say. “He’ll be okay, Willow’s with him.”
“There are lots of others injured …. I don’t know how many soldiers died. They seem to be taking good care of everyone here, though,” Tara assured her.
The nurse came back in and set down a pile of army fatigues on the chair along with a pair of boots. “I think these’ll fit you …” she told Buffy. “But you should really …”
“I’m leaving,” Buffy interrupted her as she sat down and began to change into the clothes the nurse brought. “But first, I want to see every patient you have from the battle … every male patient,” she told the nurse.
If Rome!Spike had Shansued, perhaps hers had too – maybe he was here, in the hospital right now, unconscious and unidentified.
Spike opened his eyes, but the room he was in seemed as dark as the space behind his eyelids. His head ached, his body ached … his flesh burned where the demon shrapnel had pierced it, but he couldn’t feel the shrapnel any longer – had someone removed it?
Spike vamped out so he could see in the darkness … he was in a small, windowless room, laying on a bed and covered by a sheet. His clothes and boots had been removed and it looked like he had been cleaned up – his wounds were bandaged, confirming that someone had removed the shrapnel from his flesh.
He swept his eyes around the room. It looked like old hotel furniture … two overstuffed chairs in a gaudy floral pattern and a small, round, Formica covered dining table were to one side of the bed; on the other was a bedside table with a lamp on it and a dresser. Spike drew in a sharp gasp of air when he saw what was atop the dresser: dolls … lots of small, plastic baby dolls.
“Buffy was right … there were no gates – straight to hell, with Dru …” Spike muttered with dismay, sitting up in the bed. But he knew this wasn’t hell; they’d never clean and bandage his wounds in hell – someone was obviously fucking with him … his money was on Angel…
“Welcome home, my darling boy … you’ve been veerry naughty,” Dru told him, as she came from the darkest corner of the room, walking silkily towards him.
“Mummy’s going to make it allll better, now…”
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Shades of Grey, Billy Joel
Some things were
perfectly clear, seen with the vision of youth