|Chapter Title:||For Love, Chapter 53|
Annie turned four in February.
Buffy and Spike have been married four years.
Buffy turned 22 years old on January 19th, 2003.
|Summary:||Buffy and Spike find out what The First was talking about when he referred to "the others."|
|Notes:||SPOILER ALERT: This chapter contains spoilers for nearly every season of BtVS and the last season of Angel, the Series.|
|Rating / Warnings:||
NC17. Content is only suitable for mature adults. Contains explicit language, violence, sex and adult themes which may include rape, attempted rape, blood play 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.
“Buffy! Whatever this amulet thing does, I think it’s starting!” Spike yelled at her across the Hellmouth.
Buffy couldn’t hear him, she was fighting along with Faith and all the newly empowered Slayers against the Turok-Han who were climbing up the wall of the abyss, threatening to overtake them.
“Buffy!” Spike screamed at her as a powerful, bright light shot out of the amulet and up through the ceiling of the Hellmouth, all the way through the basement and Principal Wood’s office. The light rose up to the sky, bringing cleansing power straight from heaven into the Hellmouth. The power flowed down from above, through Spike and the amulet, sending rays of light out across the Hellmouth and dusting the Turok-Han that the Slayers were fighting.
The ground began to shake and shudder under their feet. Dirt and rocks from the walls of the cavern began falling around them; the Hellmouth was going to collapse. “GET OUT!” Faith yelled to the other Slayers as she began running towards the stairs and the gateway out.
“Spike!” Buffy screamed running to him when she saw the light.
“I can feel it, Buffy,” he said as their eyes met.
“My soul. It’s really there. It kind of stings,” he told her. His voice calm
despite the power flowing through him.
“Go on, then,” Spike said, willing her to leave the crumbling cavern.
“No! No, you’ve done enough! You could still . . .” Buffy started.
“No!” Spike interrupted her. “You’ve beaten them back. It’s for me to do the cleanup,” he said as the other Slayer’s rushed past them – running up the stairs and out of the collapsing Hellmouth.
“Buffy, come on!” Faith yelled at her from the stairs.
“Gotta move, lamb. I think it’s fair to say, school’s out for the bloody
summer,” Spike told her with a smirk.
“Spike!” Buffy implored him to stop, to come with her. The Hellmouth was
collapsing faster now, threatening to bury them both.
“I mean it! I gotta do this!” Spike insisted.
Buffy reached her left hand for Spike’s outstretched hand, their fingers inter-laced and suddenly their hands were engulfed in flames. She stood there, frozen, watching him, realizing too late what she really felt for him.
“I love you,” Buffy said with tears in her eyes.
“No, you don’t. But thanks for saying it,” Spike told her softly, his eyes
locked with hers. “Now go!” he implored her as more and more of the cavern
collapsed around them.
“NO!” Buffy screamed at Spike. Stepping directly in front of him, she grabbed his other hand with hers, interlacing their fingers as she had with her left hand. She could feel the power of the amulet as it flowed from him through her and out into the Hellmouth. Buffy felt his love for her and the soul that he’d fought so hard for as she held tightly to his hands, not allowing him to pull away from her.
“I love you,” Buffy said again, her eyes still locked on his.
They both begin to burn from within, joined as one, as the power of the amulet passed through them and the Hellmouth collapsed, taking the entire town of Sunnydale with it.
Buffy and Spike woke with a jerk, both tumbling off the couch and onto the floor.
“What the FUCK?!”
“Did you feel like someone else’s life just passed in front of your bloody eyes . . . except not someone else?” he asked her.
“Yeah . . . very Twilight Zone,” Buffy agreed.
Buffy and Spike looked around, trying to figure out where they were. A moment ago they were standing in the Hellmouth, light engulfing them.
“Where the hell are we?” Spike asked Buffy.
“I think you got it in one, Spike,” she answered, recognizing Angelus’ mansion. “Hell,” she concluded.
“You couldn’t have just listened to me for once in your life, could you?! I told you to get out! Now you’ve got yourself sucked into hell with me!” Spike yelled at her.
“Yeah? Well, I didn’t see you with all the listening when I told you that you’d done enough! You should have taken that stupid thing off!” Buffy retorted.
“Dawn! We have to get back!” she said, changing the subject and starting for the door.
“You can’t. You’re dead,” came a vaguely familiar voice from the other side of the room.
“That’s never stopped me before!” Buffy retorted as she turned around to see who was speaking.
“Whistler!” she exclaimed. Buffy was on him in a flash, pinning him back against the wall, her hand holding his throat in a tight grip. “What the fuck is going on?”
Spike came up behind her. “You know this bloke?”
“Yeah, he’s the one that told me how to send Angel to hell. A minion of the Powers That Be,” Buffy explained to Spike.
“Minion’s such a strong word, don’t you think?” Whistler choked out past her grip. “More like messenger.”
“So ‘messenge’,” Buffy said, releasing her grip on him. “What the fuck is going on? Where’s Dawn? Giles? Everybody?!”
Buffy and Spike stood side by side looking at Whistler, waiting for him to answer her question.
Whistler rubbed his throat and took a few ragged breaths before he answered. “They aren’t in this dimension, well, Dawn isn’t, anyway.”
At their confused looks, he elaborated. Looking at Buffy he said, “Every decision we make has the possibility of spinning off a completely new dimension; of creating a parallel, but separate, universe. Years ago, when I was here before, Angelus had a decision: he could go on the offensive and have you kidnapped, or be passive and hope that you didn’t get to him before he pulled the sword out of Acathla. At that moment, the dimensions split – in one, you were kidnapped; in the other, you weren’t. In one, Spike stayed and helped you; in the other, he didn’t.”
“Which one is real?” Buffy asked.
“They’re both real,” Whistler answered her before continuing his explanation. “In the dimension you just came from, you both just died closing the Hellmouth and saving the world. The PTB have rewarded you both by integrating the part of your souls that were in that dimension back into this one. Into one where you’re together and you’re happy. Into one where you realized that you loved Spike before it was too late.”
Tears stung Buffy’s eyes. “Annie,” she said looking at Spike, whose eyes were also glistening as he blinked back his emotions. They both realized the life that had just passed in front of their eyes was the one from this dimension – also their lives, but not.
“Very shortly, your memories of the dimension you just came from, the one where you died in the Hellmouth, will recede; they’ll feel like a dream. You’ll remember it, but what will feel real to you will be this life. The life you made together,” Whistler explained. “You’re getting a second chance.”
“What about Dawn?” Buffy asked. “Who’ll take care of Dawn?”
“Your friends will take care of her, just like they did before,” Whistler assured her.
“My friends! What if they bring me back?!” she asked, suddenly concerned.
“They can’t. They won’t be able to find your soul – in fact, that soul, as a separate being, doesn’t exist anymore. It’s been united with your soul in this dimension.” Whistler explained. “For both of you,” he added, looking at Spike.
“Oh, God . . .” Buffy shook her head, trying to process all this. “You didn’t believe me,” she said, turning to look at Spike.
“Buffy, luv . . . I did believe you, I just . . . I just wanted you to leave before it was too late. I just wanted you to be happy and have that normal life that you wanted so much.” Spike said, unable to hold the tears back any longer.
“Spike . . . you’re such a dope sometimes. What do you think my life would’ve been like without you there? Not happy. Not normal. Empty, alone; filled with guilt for not telling you sooner. I love you. I need you. You’ve always known me better than I’ve known myself, how could you not know that?”
Tears fell from Buffy’s eyes as she spoke. She reached her hand out and touched Spike’s face. “I love you,” she repeated.
"God, Buffy!" Spike closed the space between them and pulled her to him, dropping his mouth to hers in a soft kiss. Buffy wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her body against him as she returned his kiss, pressing her tongue between his lips, tasting, exploring – as if it were their first time.
Whistler cleared his throat. “Well, I’ll just be going then,” he said, walking past the pair and towards the door.
“Wait!” Buffy stopped him. Turning in Spike’s arms to face Whistler, she asked, “How many more are there?”
“More what?” Whistler questioned.
“Dimensions . . . with pieces of our souls,” Buffy clarified.
“Well, there are thousands of dimensions, maybe millions. You’re not in all of them, of course. No way to really know how many your soul is in, Buffy,” Whistler answered.
“What about Spike?” she pressed. “What about his soul?”
“At the moment?” Whistler looked at his watch. “None.”
“What the bloody hell does that mean?” Spike asked, stepping forward towards the messenger.
“Well . . . umm,” Whistler stammered.
Spike took another step and clamped a strong hand around Whistler’s throat. “Tell me what that bloody well means,” he snarled at him.
“Ok . . . ok!” Whistler said, raising his hands up in surrender. Spike released him and stepped back, waiting for the messenger to explain himself.
“Well, like I said, dimensions break off at decision points . . . Buffy made a decision, a pretty big one, in the Hellmouth, to die with you instead of leaving like you asked her to,” Whistler started explaining.
“You’re telling us that I actually left him in one dimension?!” Buffy asked, incredulous.
Whistler gave a small shrug.
“Finally! A Buffy that does as I say!” Spike said, rolling his head back and lifting his arms out to the side in gratitude. “So, I died and she lived . . . where’s that part of m’ soul?” Spike continued.
“Right now, it’s in the amulet,” Whistler explained. He backed away before adding, “It’ll be released back in that dimension, up in L.A. You’ll be working with Angel.”
“Angel!?” The exclamation came as one voice from Buffy and Spike.
“Bloody hell! So I die, sacrifice everything, and you reward me by sending me and my hard earned soul to Angel?” Spike stepped forward towards Whistler again. “Fix it,” he demanded.
“Buffy made the decision . . . free will and all,” Whistler said in defense. “We don’t change what you people do. The amulet was Angel's, it was meant for him . . . she gave it to you . . . it’ll go back to him.”
“Bugger . . .” Spike mumbled to himself.
“So, I . . . I mean she . . . umm . . . this is a pronoun jungle here . . . That Buffy thinks Spike’s dead, but he’s not. Is that what you’re saying?” Buffy asked.
“Yeah, like that,” Whistler agreed.
“So, he’ll call her!” Buffy took Spike’s hand to assure him. “It’ll be fine, Spike. He’ll call her and he won’t have to stay in L.A. with Angel. They’ll be together again and they’ll get a second chance, too!”
Whistler shrugged before saying, “Free will . . . never know what you people are gonna do. It’s quite a challenge, really. Constantly having to change the prophecies to match the circumstances you create . . . keeps us on our toes, that’s for sure!”
Spike looked suspiciously at Whistler. He wasn’t so sure the messenger was giving them the full story. “So you don’t know what happens there, then?” Spike pressed him.
“Hasn’t happened yet,” Whistler pointed out. “Free will . . .”
“Yeah, yeah – heard ya’ the first bloody time,” Spike interrupted him.
"So," Buffy concluded as she spoke to the group, "apparently, that's what The First was talking about when he said 'the others' hadn't thought of sending the Potentials to the Coven. The First obviously moves across dimensions like we move across the room and it's been fighting us in all of them."
As the memories from the other dimension, the one where they had died closing the Hellmouth, began to recede into what felt like memories of a dream, or, perhaps more accurately, a nightmare, Buffy called the whole Scooby gang to the mansion for a meeting to fill them in on this latest development in their lives. She and Spike had been relating things that happened in the other dimension that differed from the one all their friends knew. Even though Spike and Buffy could remember Dawn and everything that happened in the other world, their happy life together, with Annie as their daughter, was what was foremost in their minds, memories and hearts; it was the real world, as far as they were concerned.
Of course, there were a few things that had been carefully edited out of their story of the other dimension to the gang; things that would've just been hurtful for them to hear. Things like Faith killing the Assistant Mayor and all the badness that followed that for her, Tara being killed, Willow killing Warren and trying to end the world, Xander leaving Anya at the altar, Spike and Anya sleeping together, and Giles conspiring with Robin Wood to kill Spike.
Going back to something Buffy had said earlier, Xander asked, “So, the mayor ATE Principal Snyder?" Shaking his head and barely able to contain his laughter, he added, "God, I’m sorry I missed that!”
“Totally!” Buffy said. “Of course, the mayor was a hundred foot long snake at the time!” Buffy made a puppet mouth with one hand and brought it down on one finger as if gobbling it up in an imitation of a huge snake eating the Principal.
“And we blew up the whole High School? That’s so awesome!” Xander continued.
“No!! Not awesome!” Willow interjected. “I love that school – we had a lot of good times there! We met Buffy and Giles there!”
Xander looked at Spike who was just shaking his head. “Don’t look at me! I bloody well wasn’t there!” Spike told him.
“And you worked at the DoubleMeat Palace? That must’ve been skanky,” Faith changed the subject to get more information about one of the other stories the pair had told them.
“It totally was! I smelled like greasy burgers all the time . . . it was gross!” Buffy agreed.
“But, weren’t you in love with Buffy then, Spike?” Xander questioned. “Why didn’t you help her so she didn’t have to work there?”
“I tried, didn’ I? Told her I could get money, that she didn’ belong there! You think this Buffy's stubborn?" Spike said, pointing at his wife. "HA! You've haven't seen anythin'” Spike informed them.
“I thought you meant kitten poker money, Spike! I didn’t know you had real money!” Buffy defended.
“You wouldn’t have taken it either way, Slayer – you know that,” Spike replied sadly.
Buffy shrugged. “Maybe. Maybe not. If you’d offered a couple of months later I might have. Everyone had gotten really sick of Doublemeat Palace for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day! Hell, even the vamps were complaining about how bad I smelled!”
“Buffy, could you tell us more about the Trio? You said they shot you and Tara?” Giles asked, trying to focus on something that may still be a threat in this dimension, since he’d never heard of them.
“Yeah, it was just three geeks who thought they could take over Sunnydale. Let’s see, it was Jonathan Levinson, Andrew Wells and Warren Mears,” Buffy informed them, happy that she could still remember their names.
“Jonathan? He killed himself in the tower at the High School in our senior year. Don’t you remember?” Willow asked the group.
“Yes – wasn’t that the same day everyone got sick in the cafeteria? I think the health department finally decided that rat poison had somehow gotten into the soup,” Giles agreed.
“And Andrew – wasn’t he Tucker’s brother? Tucker’s hellhounds ate him on Prom night!” Xander offered.
“That just leaves Warren, then,” Buffy said as Willow opened her laptop and started typing.
“Warren Mears,” she said, scanning the computer screen. “This says he’s serving a life sentence for killing his girlfriend, Katrina.”
“Well, I don’t think we have to worry about them, then,” Buffy said. She felt badly that she hadn’t been there to save Jonathan and Andrew during her senior year of High School – she’d been at the mansion, pregnant and doing home study, instead. Of course, it wasn’t like they appreciated it – they had tried to kill her later and Warren had killed Tara and practically destroyed Willow and the whole world in the process. She shrugged to herself – probably for the best, after all.
“So, Spike, you didn’t have a soul until just this last year?” Willow asked, changing the subject. “How come you didn’t try to kill us all that time?”
“Oh, I tried!” Spike assured her. “The commando boy’s put one of those sodding chips in m’ head – wouldn’t let me hurt you lot – or any other humans!”
“So, kinda like a fake soul,” Willow said.
“More like a muzzle,” Buffy corrected Willow.
“So, how did you finally get one? Did I do a spell for you?” Willow looked hopefully at Spike.
“PFFFFFT! No, I fought for it. Went through the Trials; fought to the death; won it,” Spike told her.
“Well, if we were getting along and you were helping us and not hurting anybody, how come you even did that?” Willow pressed him.
Spike met Buffy’s eyes, his jaw clenched at the memory of what drove him to go through the Trials and win his soul. It was another one of those things that they had edited out of the story to their friends.
Buffy laid her hand on his and answered Willow. “He did it for love.”
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