|Story Title:||I Run to You|
If You Leave Me Now
July, 2004 - August, 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 (she was born in 1999)
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.
Faith joins the fray and Spike’s resolve weakens, but Buffy does what she thought he wanted and files for divorce - and worse.
Heartfelt thanks to my "ET" and wonderful Beta,
her wonderful suggestions, much needed corrections and always
“If You Leave Me Now” by Chicago
ScreenCaps courtesy of ScreenCap Paradise:
|Rating / Warnings:||
NC17. This chapter is full of angst - again!
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.
Saturday, July 31st, 2004:
“Love what you’ve done with the place!” Faith called from the doorway as she dropped her suitcase on the floor and surveyed the still chaotic great room of the mansion. “What do you call it, ‘Tornado Chic’?”
Willow and Tara were knee-deep in the mess, trying to piece Humpty Dumpty back together again, one book, one page at a time.
“Faith!” Willow exclaimed as she set the book she was working on down and hurried over to the Slayer and gave her a welcoming hug.
Tara followed Willow and Faith grabbed her into a fast, tight hug, as well, before releasing her. “Where’s B and that hot vamp of hers?” Faith asked the witches. “Gotta talk to them…”
At the look on their faces, Faith asked, “What’s the what?”
“Well, things aren’t exactly ‘five by five’,” Willow told her with a sigh, before filling Faith in on the situation.
“That sucks dog dick …” Faith told them with a sigh when they had finished telling her about Spike and Buffy’s fight.
“What are you doing here?” Willow asked Faith.
“I’m undercover!” Faith exclaimed, holding her arms up in the air as if to say “ta-da” and showing her new bellybutton ring in the process.
“As what, a bloody pin cushion?” Spike asked as he sauntered down the stairs, hearing the last of the conversation. “’Cause, must say, you’ve got that one down pat …” he told her, his eyes raking down her body and back up to her eyes, where she had added an eyebrow piercing, as well.
“Spike!” Faith exclaimed and moved across the room to greet him with hug. “Sorry to hear about … B – that sucks.”
Spike shrugged and backed up a step when she released him. “So, what’s your secret, undercover mission? You ain’t gonna fit in at the convent…”
“We’re here to spy on your children … and report back to the Council,” Faith informed him matter of factly.
Spike’s eyebrows shot up. “Come again?”
“Didn’t cum the first time, big guy … B said you were good, but you aren’t that good,” Faith teased, wiggling her brows at him before saying, “Wes and I are here to spy on Annie, Danielle, and William … and report what we observe back to the Council. We’ve been permanently reassigned to SunnyD. Apparently, you put quite the scare into poor Horty …”
“Who the bloody hell is Horty?” Spike asked before recognition hit him. “Oh…you mean Hornblower …” Spike chuckled slightly. “Yeah, he mighta wet himself…”
“I think you scared him shitless…” Faith laughed. “Anyway, they decided that since we have ‘history’, that you’d let me in without question …”
“I hate to break this to ya, but to be any good at ‘undercover’ work, you ain’t supposed to tell the enemy your mission,” Spike informed her, folding his arms across his chest.
Faith shrugged. “I’m not – far as I’m concerned, it’s us against the Council. I’ll tell them whatever you and B want me to. I’m just fucking happy to be back in warm, sunny California – Cleveland is too cold for my bones!”
“And what about your Watcher?” Spike asked suspiciously.
Faith shrugged. “He hated Cleveland, too …” she told him before asking, “Can we crash here a few days until we can get our own places?”
Spike studied Faith a few moments … she’d never done anything to hurt them before and had helped them over the years, including bringing those Slayers to the other dimension to fight The Black Thorn … Spike shrugged and waved his hand at the stairs. “If you can find an empty room – it’s all yours.”
“Cool!” Faith exclaimed and hugged his neck again before retrieving her bag and heading upstairs.
“Where’s Percy?” Spike called after her.
“He’ll be along … I wanted first dibs on the rooms so I sent him to the store for a few things,” Faith laughed as she took the stairs two at a time.
When Faith came back downstairs she found Spike in the kitchen making Annie, who was down in the Bat Cave, a sandwich for lunch.
“So,” Faith started, “where’s Buffy?”
“Don’t know, don’t care…” Spike replied flatly, not turning away from his task.
“Riiiight …” Faith said with a touch of sarcasm. “Why don’t you use that cute little bond thing and find out – I’d like to talk to her.”
“Why don’t you use the bloody phone, then …” Spike suggested with a touch of annoyance as he turned around to face her.
“’Cause I didn’t fight my ass off against the armies of hell and bury six teenage girls for the phone …” Faith told him, folding her arms across her chest.
Spike glared at her for a moment, then rolled his eyes and let out a long sigh.
Slayer … he sent across the bond and waited but got no response.
“She’s not home …” he told Faith as he started to turn back around and finish making the sandwich.
“Try harder …” Faith insisted, grabbing his arm.
Spike glared at her hand, but resisted grabbing it and twisting it up behind her and ripping it off, which was what he really wanted to do.
Sensing that she’d pushed him to the limit, Faith released his arm. “Try again…” she told him, her voice even, but unyielding.
Spike let out another long sigh and tried again.
Slayer … he sent out again, but got no response, then he tried, Buffy …
Spike! What’s wrong? The kids? he got back almost immediately.
Your evil twin is here … wants to talk to ya’, he told her.
Huh? Who? Buffy asked him.
Faith? Ummm… yeah, ok –tell her to meet me at the Magic Box in an hour. Is everything else ok? Annie? The twins?
Right as rain … I’ll tell ‘er, Spike sent back before closing the bond.
“Magic Box in an hour …” he told Faith as he turned around and finished making Annie’s sandwich.
“See … that wasn’t that hard, was it?” Faith asked rhetorically as she turned and left the kitchen.
Buffy had done as Spike asked and stayed away from the mansion. Annie called her every afternoon when she got home from pre-school and it broke Buffy’s heart to not go to her, but she honored Spike’s request to stay away. Buffy listened as Annie would tell her about her day, what she learned that day and what she did.
Annie would always end the same way, by asking when Buffy was coming home and telling her that they all missed her, making a special effort to tell her that Papa missed her, too. Buffy would hedge and say that she’d see her as soon as she could, which was true – she’d see her as soon as Spike said it was ok.
She knew she had the right to see the children, even get custody or joint custody … if she pushed it, she could get the cops and child services involved – but she was already putting Annie through so much, to get the authorities involved would just make it worse. Plus, her guilt over lying to Spike and hurting him kept her from pushing it – she’d put him through enough, too.
Buffy set up a room near Angel’s in the basement of the high school and stayed there. She spent most of her time trying to fill in blanks for him, she got Watcher’s diaries from Giles that talked about Angelus and Darla, as well as Spike and Dru, for him to read in hopes that it would open the door in his mind that had been closed. Every day she was hopeful that his memories would return, and when she walked into his room, he’d be waiting on the other side to kill her for what she’d done to him, but so far, that day hadn’t come.
It was early afternoon when Buffy met Faith in the backroom at the Magic Box. Faith filled her in on the Council’s plan to have her and Wes observe and report on the kids and Buffy filled Faith in on the Slayer dream she’d had and helping Angel and lying to Spike.
“I know you’re with Spike in the ‘Stake Angel’ club,” Buffy told Faith. “Believe me when I say, I wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t 100% sure.”
Faith understood – she’d had Slayer dreams before and the feeling she got from them was totally different than anything else she’d ever experienced. There was urgency to them and a feeling of certainty that what you were seeing was real. The possibility that the PTB were manipulating Buffy to get Angel back in the game really was nothing more than a footnote. Like a side effect of a drug; in this case, the side effect of saving Annie and JJ was Angel getting his life back. It was a price Buffy was willing to pay and Faith couldn’t disagree.
“If you need help – just holler … I’m there,” Faith told Buffy at the end of their talk.
“Thanks … maybe you could do patrols … I doubt Spike’s been going and I know I haven’t much felt like it,” Buffy requested and Faith agreed.
Wednesday, August 4th, 2004:
“So,” Faith started when she caught Spike alone in the training room a few days later. “I’ve gotten B’s side and the witches take on it – let’s hear your story …”
“Got no story – it’s simple, don’t like to be lied to …” Spike asserted.
Faith rolled her eyes … she knew it wasn’t that simple. “I understand you’re the president of the “Stake Angel” club … I’m the treasurer…” she told him, holding her right hand out to shake his.
Spike looked down at her hand, then back up to her face before turning away from her and beginning to punch on the heavy bag in the center of the room.
“Did I ever tell you how Angelus put me in that coma?” Faith asked, undeterred.
“Nope …” Spike answered curtly as he danced around the bag, jabbing and kicking it.
Faith moved with him around the opposite side of the bag so when he looked up he would see her.
“Well, when we realized that we’d released Angelus instead of Angel …” Faith started.
“Same person, luv,” Spike interjected.
“Yeah, well, not entirely …” Faith asserted, before continuing.
“Anyway, when we realized he didn’t have his soul back, Wes, Gunn, and I went after him. There was this one building he and I used to go to … it had the most amazing view from the roof, you could see forever on a clear night – anyway, I figured that was where he went, and I was right.”
Spike continued dancing around the bag, taking jabs and kicks at it as Faith talked and moved around it with him.
“Angel always was a creature of habit…” Spike offered.
“Yeah … so, I get to the roof first and I locked the door behind me … You see, I really cared for Angel. I never wanted to care about anyone but, it just happened – I was a ‘Wham, Bam, thank ya’ Sam’ kinda girl …”
“Sam?” Spike asked with a smirk.
Faith shrugged. “Their name didn’t matter … want, take, have. Hit ‘em hard, take what you want, and send them on their way. Anyway, I didn’t want Gunn or Wes staking him – I knew I could bring him in without hurting him … I could get him back.”
“You were wrong …” Spike interjected.
“I was wrong because I was thinking like a lover … not like a Slayer. I let my heart overrule my instincts … and I lost. For the first time, I lost.”
“And yet, here you are …” Spike pointed out.
“Only because Wes shot the lock off the door and then shot Angel in the back with buckshot to get him off me …” Faith clarified.
“I’m sure there’s a bloody moral to this story in there somewhere…” Spike said dryly as he continued punching the bag. “Like, use wooden bullets when shooting a vampire …”
“Buffy did the right thing,” Faith told him flatly.
“PFFFTTTT!! That’s the moral of your soddin’ story?! ‘Buffy did the right thing?’ This I gotta hear! Please tell me how lying to me is the right bloody thing!” Spike exclaimed as he stopped dancing and hitting the bag and stood with his hands on his hips glaring at Faith.
“One,” Faith started, holding up her thumb. “She is 100% sure that helping Angel will save Annie and JJ in the future.”
When Spike started to interrupt and object, Faith just talked over him and Spike stopped talking but continued to glare at her.
“Two,” she said, holding up her index finger with her thumb. “She knew you were a card carrying, lifetime member of the ‘Stake Angel’ club.
“Three,” her middle finger joined the other two. “She had to keep you from staking Angel and she didn’t want to have to fight you to do it. She was afraid she’d lose and she was afraid she’d win…she loves you too much to fight you.”
“Four,” Faith started. “She’s the Slayer … you’re not. She had the dream, you didn’t. You can’t know how sure she is about this unless you’ve been there.”
“Five”, Faith continued, holding up the last finger on her hand. “Actually, there is no five – that’s it,” Faith admitted, holding up her had with just the four fingers up.
“Done, are you?” Spike asked her with no attempt to hide his annoyance.
“Done…” Faith confirmed.
“Unlike you, apparently Buffy has no problem fightin’ someone she loves, ‘cause she beat the shit outta me… again,” Spike asserted.
“If she had told me ‘bout the wanker being back right off – she may have still have had to fight me … but I can take gettin’ beat out in the open, fair and square – I just can’t take being lied to, being betrayed,” Spike told Faith, as he started to walk out of the room. “I’m not a bloody lap dog. You can’t piss on my head and tell me it’s rainin’.”
“What happened in that pool at the Hyperion?” Faith asked him, moving in front of him to block his exit.
“That was … I was under a thrall …” Spike defended.
“But you won – if Big Blue Fred hadn’t stopped you, you would’ve killed Buffy. You beat B because she was fighting with a handicap, she loved you,” Faith pointed out. “Don’t think she’s forgotten that – don’t think she doesn’t know that on any given day, you could beat her.”
“So, what’re you sayin’? She lied because … she’s afraid of me? That’s bollocks,” Spike insisted, shaking his head adamantly.
“No, she’s not afraid of you, but she was afraid of losing. For her, losing meant killing your daughter. You know B, she makes other people’s guilt trips look like vacations at the beach … if she’d lost, she might as well be firing those bullets at Annie and JJ herself,” Faith told him, her voice getting softer at the end.
“If you believe that dream bollocks…” Spike asserted.
“Back to points one and four. She believes it, completely. That’s all that matters. She did the right thing,” Faith told him solemnly before turning and heading out the door.
When she reached the doorway, Faith stopped and turned back to him and said, “And, for the record, the reason she was able to fight you and win is because she wasn’t fighting for herself, she was fighting for your daughter… you were just fighting for your wounded pride,” before turning again and leaving him alone.
When Faith closed the door, Spike roared in anger and frustration and launched himself at the heavy body bag with both feet. He hit it with such force that it broke free from its moorings in the ceiling and tumbled to the floor and he fell on top of it with a hard thud.
Spike rolled off the bag and down onto the mat on the floor and pressed his palms against his eyes to stem the tears that threatened again. Faith’s words rang in his head, “She did the right thing,” but Spike still felt betrayed by Buffy and her lies.
He was glad that Faith hadn’t thrown his promise to be Buffy’s ‘willing slave’ back in his face or his vow that he had no problem being second to the Slayer that he’d made in the minutes before they were married. He had meant every word of that when he said it, but things had changed … he had changed and it was Buffy that had changed him.
Spike’s mind whirled with contradictions and confusion – why had Buffy pulled him into the light only to betray him with lies and shove him back into the dark? She’s the Slayer, you’re not… Faith’s words bounced off his skull and ricocheted through his brain. Faith was right – but Buffy had made him feel like he was her equal, then she treated him like her minion.
She was afraid of losing … she was afraid of winning … she didn’t want to fight you, Faith’s words kept squirming in and out of his brain, trying to find a foothold – but every time Spike thought that perhaps his mind understood why she did what she did, his heart kept coming back to feeling betrayed. Was it the lies that hurt him so much or the fact that she was spending time with and helping Angel? Would he feel this betrayed if it had been anyone else?
His wounded pride and battered heart were at war with the words and ideas that Faith had implanted in his mind. There was a tug-of-war going on inside him and it felt like he might be ripped in half at any moment – he seemed to have no control over the feelings and thoughts that kept zinging around within him. He couldn’t stop them and he couldn’t get them to settle on one idea or one conclusion and stick with it.
“ARRRGGHHHHH!!” Spike screamed in frustration as he pounded the palms of his hands against his forehead and banged the back of his head against the mat beneath him, trying to get the warring factions within him to stop – to silence the arguing voices, but it didn’t help.
Spike began to cry – the pain in his heart over losing her winning out over everything else. He turned over on his stomach and buried his face against his arms as sobs wracked his body and the tears flowed like rivers from his eyes. He had been so sure that he had done the right thing – so sure until Faith started her bloody story … now he wasn’t sure of anything anymore, and that seemed to be the most frightening thing of all.
That night, as she had done for the last week since Buffy had been gone, Annie asked for the story of the first time that Spike saw Buffy and fell in love with her. Spike really wasn’t in the mood for that story on this night, though. Faith’s assertion that Buffy had done the right thing by lying to him was still bouncing around in his brain like a pinball and his heart kept trying to tilt the machine by insisting that Buffy’s lies were a betrayal of his love.
“Let’s have something else, t’nite, Niblett,” Spike said tiredly.
Annie shook her head from side to side adamantly and folded her arms over her chest as her bottom lip stuck out in a pout. Spike closed his eyes and sighed heavily…he didn’t need another voice in his head just now … there were already too many screaming at him, wanting to be heard.
“Jus’ don’t feel like it, t’nite, pet … how about I just read ya’ a book,” Spike suggested, leaning over to choose a book from her bookcase. “Cat in the Hat?” he suggested, holding the colorful book up.
“No…I know that by heart…”
“You know the bloody story you want me to tell ya by heart, too …” Spike pointed out. “Horton Hears a Who?” he suggested.
Annie shook her head again. “I’ll start …” she suggested. “Once upon a time,” Annie began the story. “A handsome vampire came to Sunnydale to meet a Slayer. He’d heard that she was …” Annie stopped and looked at her father to fill in the next part.
Spike sighed heavily and rolled his eyes. “…a balmy bird with stupid hair …” Spike added.
“No! Do it right!” Annie admonished him.
Spike sighed again. “…a helluva a Slayer … resourceful and strong…” he revised, his voice sounding as tired as his mind and body felt.
“And she was pretty, too – and didn’t have stupid hair,” Annie added. “The handsome vampire went to the Bronze and saw her dancing with her friends. Then she smiled at something Uncle Xander said and …” Annie stopped again and waited for Spike to fill in the next part.
How did I get dragged into this, again? Spike thought as he looked at the ceiling. Annie poked him in the ribs to get him to say his part.
“Ow!” Spike exclaimed, rubbing his ribs in mock pain.
“Your turn…”Annie clarified. “… she smiled and …” Annie reminded him where they were in the story.
“…and her teeth fell out … she had bloody false teeth ‘cause she’d been kicked in the mouth one too many times … so, the handsome vampire laughed heartily …”
Annie gave him a look that he’d seen before … on Buffy. It was the look that would turn a vampire into dust if there was any way possible for that to happen from just a look.
Spike rolled his eyes and revised his part again. “…and the whole bloody room lit up from her smile …”
“And then the handsome vampire saw her fighting … she moved like …” Annie added.
“…a bloody fish outta water … clumsy and …” Spike stopped and smirked at Annie’s angry expression before changing his part again. “…like the bloody wind … graceful and strong … fast and fluid …”
“She got knocked down, but got right back up again,” Annie continued. “Then she dusted the bad vampire and the handsome vampire fell in love with her – ‘cause she was …” Annie stopped again and looked at Spike.
This wasn’t part of his original story that he told her … Annie was going off canon. “...she was …” Spike stopped and thought a moment. “…she was…” Spike let out a long breath before continuing, “everything I ever dreamed of.”
Annie smiled in triumph. “And she fell in love with the handsome vampire, because he was everything she ever wanted, too, and they got married and had babies and they all loved each other very much. And sometimes they would have arguments, but when they did, one of them would say ‘I’m sorry’ and the other one would say ‘I forgive you’ and they all lived happily ever after …”
Spike pursed his lips and looked at his daughter. He wanted to tell her that life wasn’t like that – that there was no ‘happily ever after’ in real life and that apologies can’t fix everything and that falling in love was for fools – but how do you tell a five-year-old that?
Spike sighed heavily and just told his daughter ‘good night’ as he dropped a kiss on her forehead. As he left her room, another voice was added to the argument in his brain – Annie’s.
Later that night, Spike lay alone in their bed listening to all the voices that filled his mind – they would give him no peace. So, Spike sat up and turned the light on and picked up his journal. Sometimes writing could help sort out his thoughts … the mere exercise of writing stuff out could sometimes un-jumble everything.
He flipped through the journal … going to the blank pages towards the back, and he found the note that Buffy had written to him there…
My Dearest Spike,
I know my words now have no meaning for you … but I just have to tell you one last time how sorry I am that I lied to you. I still feel in my heart that helping Angel will save Annie’s and JJ’s lives one day, so I won’t apologize for doing that, but I know I was wrong to not tell you. I felt cornered and I acted like the Slayer, not like a wife, not like a partner, and for that I am truly, deeply sorry.
I wish with all my heart you could find it within yourself to forgive me – but I understand if you can’t. I won’t interfere with your life, but I’ll miss you every minute of every day for the rest of mine.
My soul feels empty without you – my heart has been plunged into a cold, dark chasm – void of light and sound, and I doubt that it will ever find its way out. You were the sunshine that warmed my heart – you were the sweet wine that filled my soul with joy.
I love you – I always will. I hope you can find someone to share your life that deserves you … someone to be your equal and give you everything that you desire.
Be well, be happy, be loved.
Spike read the note over and over again as tears stung his eyes and more words and voices and arguments filled his head until there were so many that he thought for sure everyone in the house could hear them. Spike closed the journal and curled up around it in the bed – his soul ached for her, but his heart was afraid – it couldn’t stand to be broken again … and his mind vacillated between anger and hurt at being lied to and understanding of why she did it.
Finally, he gave in to his soul and reached out to her through their bond … but he got no response from her. She’d closed the bond – he couldn’t reach her. He’d tossed her out and she’d done the only thing she could do – forget him, let him go. He would have to do the same thing … but the voices inside him vowed to make that the most difficult thing he’d ever do.
Over the next three weeks, Buffy stayed in the high school near Angel. She showered in the girl’s locker room and got Angel in the habit of showering daily, as well. Willow and Tara would bring her food and make sure she ate and they brought her money to buy Angel’s blood and other necessities with. Xander and Anya offered her their spare room, but she declined – wanting to concentrate on getting Angel back to full strength and hopefully getting his memory back so she could take him back to L.A. with a clear-ish conscience.
Annie called her every day, sometimes more than once. Buffy could tell that she always waited for a time when she was alone to call, not when Spike was near. Buffy wondered if Spike knew how often Annie was calling her or if Annie was disobeying him by calling, but she didn’t ask – she was so happy to have at least that little amount of contact with her. Annie would report on how the babies were doing, if they’d done anything special or amazing, as well as how her day was. She’d always end every call the same … telling Buffy that they all missed her and loved her, putting special emphasis on the ‘all’ part.
Angel was getting stronger every day and Buffy worked out with him at night in the school gym, running sprints on the basketball court, doing calisthenics, sparring, or practicing T’ai Chi. Buffy could see a real improvement in his body and his muscle tone … but his memories remained locked away in the depths of his mind. She was beginning to think that he would never recover them … that she would have to take him back to L.A. physically well, but without any memory of the last 250+ years.
Buffy tried not to think about Spike, but that battle was usually lost around 2pm every afternoon as she lay alone in the small storeroom that she’d commandeered for herself and waited for school to let out. During a few particularly weak moments, she tried to contact him through their bond, but she got no response from him – he’d closed the bond. He really had written her off – he really just didn’t care anymore.
Obviously, she’d hurt Spike too badly for him to forgive her, so he did the only thing he could do – forget her. She tried to do that, too – but it never worked. Her heart ached for him, her soul screamed for him … but all she could do now was complete her mission – make the mission the most important thing.
Sunday, August 15th, 2004:
“Buffy … Buffy, are you alright?” Angel asked, stepping into her room in the early afternoon.
“I’m fine, Liam,” Buffy told him as she sat up and wiped the nearly ever-present tears from her eyes.
Liam? Angel thought … No one’s called me Liam since … forever.
“What’s wrong? What’s going on?” he asked, moving across the small room and sitting down next to her on the cushions on the floor that she had made her bed out of.
“Nothing … you’re up early today,” she commented, sliding away from him.
“Buffy, what’s going on? What are we doing here? Where’s Spike?” Angel asked her, looking confused and concerned.
“Spike?” Buffy looked at him with a furrowed brow. Liam had never asked about Spike – he was still afraid of Spike. “You remember Spike?”
Angel rolled his eyes. “Spike … yeah, about yay high,” Angel started, holding his hand out flat about chin high, “peroxide blond, cockney accent – very annoying … you know, the vamp you married? Spike.”
“You remember Spike!” Buffy exclaimed as excitement overcame her and she hugged Angel’s neck before jumping up and pacing back and forth across the small room. “What else do you remember? Annie? Cordelia? Gunn?”
“Sure …” Angel began, standing up with her. “Annie’s your daughter – Cordy and Gunn work for me at Angel Investigations, along with Fred and Lorne. Buffy – what’s going on?”
“Oh, thank God!” Buffy exclaimed, wrapping her arms around his neck again and giving him another hug. “What’s the last thing you remember?” she asked as she released him and stepped back.
Angel shook his head and thought a few moments. “I was coming to meet you at the marina … then I was supposed to meet Cordy later …” Angel said, his brow furrowed in confusion. “How did we get here and where is ‘here’?”
Buffy sighed. Did she tell him the truth? Lying had cost her Spike … she wasn’t going to lie anymore. The truth may hurt, Angel may be mad at her or even attack her, but at least it would be out in the open.
Buffy paced nervously back and forth as she relayed the story of her and Faith meeting him at the marina that night and dropping him to the ocean floor and everything that had happened since his return to Sunnydale, including her fight with Spike and how he kicked her out of the house. She didn’t know how Angel got out of the cage, out of the ocean and to Sunnydale.
Angel listened intently but didn’t interrupt her. When she was done, she stopped in front of him and waited for his reaction. She was prepared for him to be angry – to be livid and perhaps even attack her for what she’d done; she wasn’t prepared for what he actually did – apologize.
“I’m sorry, Buffy …” Angel started, meeting her eyes with his. “I know I put Annie in danger with that videotape, and now I’ve come between you and Spike again. I know I did stupid and selfish things in the past. It’s just … seeing you with Spike made me so crazy with jealousy. I never understood what you saw in him … he’s so unbelievably annoying.
“At first, I thought that you were just using him because we couldn’t be together … but then you told me about the ‘perfect happiness’ curse on my soul being lifted and I just … I didn’t understand. I was hurt, I was angry and it clouded my judgment.
“After the kidnapping, I realized something. I had to let you go. Spike obviously wasn’t just a passing fancy … you really did love him. And I realized something else … what I had been looking for was right under my nose …”
“Cordelia,” Buffy filled in softly.
“Yeah …” Angel agreed. “Is she … I mean …”
“She’s waiting for you,” Buffy assured him. “She’s been looking for you the whole time.”
Angel closed his eyes and nodded.
“How ‘bout we get you back to her? Whaddya say?” Buffy asked with a small smile and Angel nodded again.
Buffy purchased two bus tickets to L.A. for them, they both gathered up their meager belongings and left for L.A. later that night, arriving in the early morning hours.
When they got within a block of the Hyperion, Buffy had the cab driver stop and she and Angel got out of the cab and retrieved his bag from the trunk.
“You’ve got to be tired … why don’t you come in and get some rest before going back?” Angel offered, waving his hand towards the hotel.
Buffy shook her head and gave him a small smile. “I don’t think I’d be very welcome. This is your homecoming; I’d only muck things up. Anyway, I’ve got some stuff to do here before I go back …”
“If you’re sure…” Angel started.
“Beyond sure – thanks, though,” Buffy told him before hugging his neck. “Take care of yourself.”
“You too…” Angel replied as Buffy got back in the cab and she gave him a little wave as the cab pulled away from the curb.
Buffy handed the driver a little piece of paper with an address on it and leaned her head back against the seat and closed her eyes as the cab sped through the nearly empty pre-rush-hour streets. She’d arrive before the office was open, but she could just wait outside until someone arrived.
“Mrs. Weckerly,” the man stuck out his hand and Buffy shook it. She’d been waiting four hours to get in to see him. “I’m Owen Fitzgerald, how can I help you today?”
“I need to file for an uncontested divorce …”
Friday, August 20th, 2004:
Spike walked into the kitchen after putting Annie to bed to find a large manila envelope addressed to him in Buffy’s writing sitting on the table. It hadn’t been there at dinner – he picked it up and turned it over in his hands before bringing it to his nose, closing his eyes, and inhaling deeply – it smelled of Buffy. She must have dropped it off when he was upstairs.
He’d tried to contact her a couple of times through their bond after that night of Annie’s fairy tale, but never got a response from her – she always seemed to have the bond closed, so he gave up. He couldn’t imagine what she could possibly have to say to him now – it had been over a month since he’d seen her or talked to her. It had been one of the longest, saddest months in his life … only the time when she had been dead had been worse and some days, he wasn’t sure if this wasn’t actually worse – knowing that she was near but not being able to be with her, talk to her, see her smile.
He tried to put her out of his mind, but that didn’t work, so he tried to stay angry with her for lying … but even his broken and frightened heart started to miss her and joined in the chorus with his soul, and his daughter, and Faith, and Willow, and Tara, and all the other voices in his head wanting her back.
Spike blew out a long breath before grabbing a bottle of Jack and a glass from the cupboard and sitting down at the table. He opened the envelope and Buffy’s wedding band and engagement ring, along with the ruby and diamond heart pendant he’d given her, slid out onto the table. Spike fought back his emotions as he pulled a stack of papers out of the envelope.
On top was a note from Buffy:
My darling Spike,
I’ve tried to forget you as I know you’ve done me, but my heart aches for you every day and my soul has grown weary of pretending this pain will ever go away.
I can never make up for hurting you – you were right, I am beneath you because I know you would’ve never done that to me.
I hope this will help you live the life that you deserve …
May you find happiness and love.
Live long and prosper. (I stole that from Andrew … I hope he doesn’t mind.)
Take care of our family – I trust you with their lives.
With all my heart,
Taped to the bottom of the note and wrapped in tissue paper was the Gem of Amarra.
Spike pulled the ring off the note, held it up and looked at it sadly. This is what he had wanted … but without her to share it with, it suddenly seemed empty and worthless. He slowly slid the ring on his right index finger and flipped her note up to reveal what was under it.
“Petition for Uncontested Divorce,” the document stated boldly at the top of the next sheet and Spike’s vision blurred with tears as he tried to focus on what he was reading. His eyes scanned the page, but kept coming back to two words … Irreconcilable Differences.
They were his words … he’d used them in anger – her lies and defense of Angel had stung him like a thousand hornets and he’d said those words to her … Irreconcilable Differences… Irreconcilable Differences.
Spike bit his lip and swallowed his emotions as he set the papers down and poured himself a double shot of whiskey. He downed the first glass in one gulp and poured himself another.
“Happy bloody birthday …” Spike muttered before downing the next shot and pouring another …
Spike laughed humorlessly and slid his wedding band off his finger … laying it down on the table next to Buffy’s.
“Footloose and fancy free…” Spike said aloud as he raised his glass in a toast and downed the next shot.
“What’s that?” Faith asked as she walked into the kitchen.
Spike poured another glass and slid the papers across the table to her. Faith scanned them and set them back down, noting that Spike hadn’t signed them.
“And everyone said you’d never get out of that marriage alive … or undead,” Faith teased as she slid the papers back across the table. “You gonna sign it?”
“Just need a bloody pen … or do they need to be signed in blood?” Spike mused as he flipped to the last page. “Nope…just ballpoint.”
Faith retrieved a pen off the grocery list and handed it to him. Spike took the pen and pursed his lips as he stared at the blank line that had his name typed neatly below it. Spike studied the paper for a long time, holding the pen motionless above it. Buffy had already signed on the opposite line…
Suddenly, Spike brought the pen down on the paper and scrawled his signature quickly on the blank line before tossing the pen back on the counter near the grocery list and shoving the papers away.
“So, that’s it, I guess…” Faith said, moving around the table to where he was sitting. “You’re all available again …”
“Reckon so … free as a bird,” Spike agreed, downing another double and pouring more. “Happy birthday to me!”
Faith raised her brows. “Didn’t know it was your birthday. How about I help you celebrate?” she asked as she swung her leg over his and sat on his lap, facing him.
Faith wrapped her arms around his neck and took Spike’s lips in a hungry, horny kiss as she ground her hips down against his. Spike tried to pull back away from her, but she had him pinned to the chair – short of pushing the chair over with them in it, he couldn’t get away.
When Faith pulled back for air, Spike pushed her shoulders back. “What the bloody hell are ya’ doin’?” he asked her as he continued to try and hold her at arm’s-length.
“Helping you celebrate, big guy. Trust me, I can rock your world! It’ll be a birthday you won’t soon forget,” Faith assured him as she leaned back in for another kiss.
“Bloody hell!” Spike exclaimed as he pushed with his feet and tumbled the chair over backwards, dislodging her from his neck. Spike scrambled to his feet and put his palm up to signal ‘stop’.
“Listen … it’s not like I’m not tempted … you’re a right catch … and I’m sure you can rock m’ world and all …but – uhhh, well, the thing is, I’ve got this rash …” Spike stammered as he backed away from Faith.
Faith laughed and reached out and touched his face. “Vampires don’t get rashes …” she pointed out as Spike backed away further.
“Well, not usually, no … but, uhhh – it just came up all the suddenly like…”
“I can help with that up problem …” Faith told him with a smirk, reaching for his crotch. Spike batted her hand away and continued backing up until he’d put the table between them.
“Honestly … uhhh – I’ve got a bit of a problem with that ya’ see. A bit embarrassing, it is … the plumbin’s not working properly of late …” Spike continued to stammer as he moved to his right, keeping the table between himself and Faith as she moved to her left.
Faith stopped moving when she got to the place Spike had been sitting a few moments before and she picked up his wedding band.
“I think your plumbing would work fine if you just had the right Slayer working on it …” Faith informed him as she slid his ring across the table to him. “Why don’t you swallow some of that pride and go find her?”
Spike caught the ring and picked it up before looking up at Faith and nodding slightly. Who was he kidding? He’d never be free – he was still love’s bitch and Buffy was the only one he’d ever love. She was the only one that made him feel alive, that made him feel worthy of this life he had, of their family and friends – she was the only one that could lift him out of the shadows and into the light.
Spike slid his ring back on his finger before reaching over and gathering up Buffy’s jewelry and dropping it down in his front pocket, then he picked up the divorce papers and folded them and stuffed them in the back pocket of his jeans.
“Thanks…” Spike said to Faith as he started out of the kitchen.
“I don’t usually get thanked until I’ve actually rocked someone’s world …” Faith smiled as she downed the shot of Jack that Spike had left on the table.
As Spike was starting out the garden doors he was stopped by shouts coming from upstairs. “Spike! Spike!” he heard Willow and Tara screaming and he turned and started back into the house and up the stairs thinking something was wrong with Annie or the little bits.
“What!? What is it?” he demanded as he reached them in the upstairs hall.
Willow was waving a paper in the air. “Buffy! It’s Buffy! She’s gonna do something bad!”
“What are you on about?” Spike asked, grabbing the paper from her hand.
“We all got one – me, Tara, and Lorne, and she left one for Annie, Dani, and Billy, too! Buffy’s gonna do something bad, Spike! Seriously bad!”
Spike scanned the note – it was a goodbye note, but it was more than just that, she told Willow to find a way to block the magic from the scythe and keep Annie and Dani from becoming Slayers – it looked like a final goodbye – like a suicide note.
“Bloody hell…” Spike muttered as he turned back towards the stairs.
“Find ‘er and call me!” he instructed the witches as he jumped down from the top stair to the bottom in one leap, hitting the ground running. “And call Rupert and Harris – get ‘em out lookin’ for her, too!”
He was out the door before Willow and Tara could even get downstairs to start a locator spell. Willow hoped that Buffy hadn’t gotten an amulet to block the spell this time…
Spike stopped when he reached the street and screamed at her through their bond, SLAYER! …. BUFFY! ANSWER ME!
Spike … Buffy replied and Spike let out a sigh of relief.
Where are you? Spike asked her.
Nowhere … Buffy told him sadly.
Bloody hell, woman! You gotta be somewhere! Look, I’m s…
I really am nowhere … I hope you find someone who knows how to be what you deserve, that loves you as much as I do. I’m sorry I couldn’t be that person, Buffy interrupted him before closing the bond.
Buffy! You are! BUFFY! Don’t leave me now! I'm sorry ... God Buffy! Spike screamed at her, but he got no further response.
“FUCK!” he yelled out loud as he looked up and down Crawford Street. Where could she be? The only place he knew to look was the high school so he took off running in that direction as fast as he could.
Spike followed her scent into the basement of the school and to the room she’d been staying in, but she wasn’t there. Her overnight bag was packed and sitting in the middle of the floor, as if she was preparing to go on a trip. Spike concentrated on sensing either her or Angel, but didn’t feel either of them. He looked around and found where Angel had been staying in a separate room, but again – no one was there.
Spike screamed in frustration and went back to her room. He dumped her bag out on the floor and began rummaging through it, looking for anything that would tell him where she was. He found the used round trip bus ticket to L.A. He pulled the divorce papers out of his pocket and looked at them – the return address of the lawyer was in L.A. Had she gone back there? Maybe she was staying at Angel’s hotel … but why was her bag here?
Spike kept looking and he found a receipt from just this afternoon from the florist in Sunnydale … a large bouquet of wildflowers – Joyce’s favorite.
Suddenly, Spike’s phone rang, “She’s at the cemetery,” Spike and Willow both announced when he pressed ‘talk’. Spike was already heading out of the basement. “Get everyone over there … I don’t know what she’s doin’,” Spike told Willow before ending the call as he ran through the halls of the school towards the exit.
Buffy returned to the high school after dropping off the papers and the jewelry, including the Gem of Amarra, for Spike. She’d been able to get in and out of the house without meeting anyone … which had been her plan. She’d left the notes she’d written on the bus for Willow and the others in Willow and Tara’s room, sure that they wouldn’t be found until late that night when they went to bed – when it would be too late for anyone to do anything about them.
Buffy cried as she touched her left ring finger – it felt just as empty as her soul did without her rings on. She had tried her best to get over Spike as he had done her – to forget her love, to bury her feelings, but the hurt and emptiness in her heart and soul wouldn’t go away. She’d completed her mission … she got Angel well and back where he belonged – she’d saved Annie and JJ from getting killed as the PTB had wanted her to. Now she was a Slayer without a mission and a wife and mother without a family. She was no one with nowhere to go.
Buffy picked up the bouquet of flowers that she’d bought and headed out of the high school, leaving her bag on the floor in the room she’d lived in for the last few weeks. She wouldn’t be needing anything from it where she was going.
Buffy walked slowly through town to the cemetery where she and her mother had been buried. That sounded funny to her … in a really dark and morbid way. She wondered what would happen when she was gone, again. Would they dig her grave up, change the date on the headstone, and bury her in the same spot again or get a new plot? What would they find if they dug her grave up … an empty casket? Spike could save money by re-using it …
Buffy sank to her knees next to her mother’s grave and put the flowers in the vase that was attached to the headstone, arranging them just so.
“I’m sorry, Mom,” Buffy started as tears filled her eyes. She didn’t try to stop them this time and they spilled out and dropped to the ground. “I really, really tried – I just couldn’t do it right. I couldn’t be what he needed and I lost them all. Please don’t hate me … I can’t go on like this, it hurts too much.”
SLAYER! … BUFFY! ANSWER ME! Buffy heard Spike’s voice in her mind as she sat next to her mom’s grave.
Spike … Buffy replied sadly – he’d found the papers, obviously. She moved away from her mother’s grave and lay down atop her own, folding her arms across her chest and closing her eyes.
Where are you? Spike asked her.
Nowhere … Buffy told him despondently.
Bloody hell, woman! You gotta be somewhere! Look, I’m s…
I really am nowhere … I hope you find someone who knows how to be what you deserve, that loves you as much as I do. I’m sorry I couldn’t be that person, Buffy interrupted him before closing the bond. It wouldn’t be long now …
A poem that they’d learned in school weaved through Buffy’s mind as she laid still and quiet on the cool grass of her own grave. She couldn’t remember it all, but it began… I have slipped the surly bonds of earth and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings…
She would soon slip the surly bonds of earth and all this pain would be over. This emptiness and heartbreak would be left behind as she danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings…
She wondered how the rest of the poem went as she closed her eyes and waited … Spike would probably know…
If You Leave Me Now, Chicago
If you leave me now
If you leave me now
Oooo oh, girl, just got to have you by my side
Oooo oh, baby, please don't go
ooooo, Mama, just got to have your lovin', yeah
If You Leave Me Now, by Sofia Nikol Candiani
A sentimental mood, a kind
If you leave me now,
You have the power to keep
If you leave me now,
Feedback: Email me feedback, I'd love to hear from you! passionate@passion4 spike.com
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Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds...and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of...wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up, the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, nor even eagle flew.
And while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space...
...put out my hand, and touched the face of God.