Title: Tired of Waiting
Summary: Post NFA, Spike and Buffy finally meet up.
Word Count: 5,024
May 21, 2004 - Southern California
The night air was damp and thick, and some awful excuse for a punk band was blaring through the car speakers, a dreary cacophony that blessedly blocked out the noise inside Spike’s skull. The road was clear, not another soul out at this ungodly hour. But the events of the nights prior, and the wide expanse of time and road ahead of him, combined to make this anything but a lonely trip. What they offered in fact was a much more disturbing realization. At the end of it all, it looked like Spike might have an eternity to contemplate solitude. He couldn’t exactly say that he was looking forward to spending that much quality time with himself.
Flicking a half-smoked cigarette out into the warm night air, Spike turned the radio up to deafening levels and decided that he liked this song after all. He pushed down on the accelerator, geared the car up into fifth, and peeled away from Los Angeles racing the wind as if there was a devil on his back.
In reality it was something more in the form of an Angel.
Two Nights Earlier – Los Angeles
The rain continued to pelt down upon the bodies strewn throughout the alley. For some reason, Spike had possessed the distant hope that reinforcements would arrive. The Slayer would be at the helm, an army of littler Slayers, Witches, Watchers, and maybe a one-eyed brick-layer to round out the bunch. He knew it was nothing more then a pipe-dream, but he’d held out hope regardless. Life had taught him to expect the unexpected.
But help had never arrived, and one by one their small coalition of merry men had fallen. The armies of hell may have taken a beating, but the rebels from Wolfram and Hart were far from the victors in the fight.
Charlie boy had been the first to fall. He’d managed to hold up a decent front for nearly thirty minutes, but one slice and dice too many was all it took to send him sprawling in an awkward heap to the blood-stained alley beneath their feet. Blue had done a number on his attacker afterwards, a shower of pinkish ooze coating her when she was done. An angry glint in her eyes as she turned to the next demon in line and continued working on her anger-management skills. It hadn’t been bad work. But regardless, the end result was still the same, and Charlie was just as dead.
The surprising bit had been watching Angel be swallowed whole by the dragon he had claimed for his own. A yell of what almost sounded like triumph had wrenched the air, only to be cut off as the monster’s jaws clamped down on him. Spike had stood stock-still, not sure if his eyes were playing with him or not. It wasn’t true, what they say, about major events in one’s life playing out in slow-motion. In actuality, moments like that one were over before they’d even begun, and before Spike could even fully process the occurrence, Angel and all the twisted up emotions that he caused in Spike, was kibble.
It was only a minor bit of satisfaction that now the same beast was keeled over on its side, a bloody swath torn across its throat. Courtesy of one mightily brassed off teenage boy that had shown up not twenty minutes prior to Angel’s demise – the same boy whose head was now resting a dozen feet away from his body. Spike had no idea who he was, although he vaguely recognized him, but he’d fought like a man possessed, and done a damn sight better then Spike would of thought.
When it was over, the stench of decay was inescapable, and Spike was hard pressed to keep from retching. He had hoped that perhaps at least Blue had made it through the night with him, but a quick bit of scavenging found a few vital parts of her had been removed from her torso, it didn’t look like she’d be joining him after all.
Spike swallowed back a sob and finally allowed the pressing weight of loss and the agony of his wounds to overcome him. He backed himself as far into a corner of the alley as the rising sun would allow, and slide down to the ground in an exhausted heap.
It was the face of Angel, bathed in sunlight, that he awoke to.
Three Nights Later – Middle America
“Bloody Shanshu. Doesn’t matter one bit that I got m’self burned to a crisp not a year ago. No thank you or fare-thee-well. No. I just get to be all ghostly. And what does Brood Boy get? Get’s to be a real boy? Well that’s just bloody brilliant innit! Doesn’t matter that he went all evil at the end there, or that he bloody well signed off on the damnable thing! No. He gets to go off and frolic in the sun like the pansy he’s always wanted to be. Well, serve him right if he steps off the curb and into a bus on his way to Rome wouldn’t it?”
“Uh, sir? Did you want another refill or…”
“Huh? Oh, yeah. Yeah, sure. Thanks.” Spike looked up at the diner waitress a bit sheepishly and pushed his coffee cup towards her for the refill she’d apparently been attempting to offer him the past five minutes.
It wasn’t that he was bitter, per se. No. No he certainly wouldn’t say he was bitter. A tad annoyed perhaps. Maybe a little bit irritable too. But not bitter. After all, he’d been the bigger man about it, hadn’t he? Ignored the glaringly obvious at first and simply asked how he’d gotten out of the dragon…
“You know, Spike. I’m not really sure. Remember being swallowed - really warm and kind of sticky in there. And the next thing I know…Poof!” Angel’s smile was a mile wide as he had not yet seemed to realize that he was standing naked in the sun. In the middle of an alleyway, full of tattered demon remains.
Spike’s confused expression focused on Angel, not sure he’d understood him correctly, “Poof? You’re saying you just went… Poof?” Angel smiled that same, god-awful boyish smile again, and nodded.
“Yeah. ‘Poof’.” Angel’s head tilted back as he spoke and took in the morning rays for a moment, then turned back to Spike, his brow wrinkled in thought, “Where’s Connor?”
Spike had thought that the boy seemed familiar, but had never really suspected the reason was that he was Angel and Darla’s bastard get. Angel had crowed out in agony once he’d been shown the remains of his son and Spike had had no choice but to remain hidden by the shadows as Angel rocked the body back and forth, his quiet sobs accomplishing nothing but to weaken his already tired body.
After the sun had set, Spike had silently moved to Angel’s side, and tentatively placed a hand on his shoulder. Angel seemed to finally return to himself then as his wide-eyed gaze met with Spike’s. Without much prompting or discussion, the two had gathered the remains of Connor, along with Gunn’s and Illyria’s bodies, and set them ablaze at the end of the alleyway. Spike still somewhat amazed that no authorities had showed up to assess the situation. It really was amazing how blind people could be to want they didn’t wish to see.
They stayed on and watched as the flames licked ever closer to their feet, until the imminent danger had made Spike’s skin itch. He’d tugged on Angel’s arm then, and had been met with steely eyes, taking that s the hint that it was intended to be, he left Angel to say his final goodbyes.
Somehow, the two had managed to find their way back to Spike’s place, gathering up clothing of a slightly less beaten and battered look then what Angel had managed to scrounge up in the alleyway. Spike gathered what money he had, and a few things he’d rather not leave behind, knowing full well, he wouldn’t be returning to his hole in the ground again.
They had made their way to a nearby bar afterwards, and there was drinking. Followed by more, heavier drinking. Spike had lost count of the number of shots the two had thrown back, silently honoring the memory of the fallen. The night was slick with Jack Daniels wishes and Tequila dreams. The mind-numbing inebriation was to be expected, after such a loss. But Spike was taken aback when Angel finally broke the silence that had fallen between them, and told with a wistful heart, stories of Connor, Darla, and Cordelia.
Eventually the discussion turned to those that were lost in the rubble the previous night. A bit of the blame game included as par for the course. But the next morning found Spike unable to sleep and, with a glance at the unconscious and hung-over ex-vampire in the bed at the other end of the motel room, with a decision to make.
Spike had watched the rise and fall of Angel’s chest for what seemed like hours. His newly active heart beat in an unsteady rhythm beneath his scarred chest, easily worn out, and unaccustomed to being used. Angel’s cheeks held a pink glow as his blood pounded in a soft echo about the room, in time with the radiator along the back wall. The combination of sounds kept Spike in a state of rapt fascination as the morning and afternoon had passed.
The letter had been surprisingly easy to write; the pen scratching away on the blank motel stationary a familiar comfort. It was the actually leaving of it and walking away that had been difficult. Twice he had stomped back into the room ready to rip the bloody thing to shreds, before he would walk back out to the landing in a huff. It was the last time he had done so, when his eyes scanned the parking lot and landed on a somewhat beaten up, but still drivable Desoto near the front that he made up his mind.
The letter had simply read: “You earned it. Take care of her.”
So yeah, maybe now, 800 miles later in a small-town diner in Nowhere, Colorado, he was having second thoughts.
Really, could you blame him?
Five Years Later – London
“I’m thinking of sitting Giles and Willow together at the reception.”
“Any particular reason?”
“Oh, come on Buffy. Tell me you haven’t noticed.” Dawn raised an exasperated eyebrow, her legs bouncing back and forth off of the gravestone she was perched on, as she watched Buffy toy with a vamp.
“Noticed what, exactly?” Buffy breathed out quickly, before diving down into a somersault underneath the vamp’s legs as he launched at her.
“Noticed the sparkage between Willow and Giles? Ever since they had to do that binding spell on that Vorasch demon?” Dawn nibbled on the end of her pencil as she glanced back at the seating chart in her lap.
Buffy tossed the vampire over her shoulder, before following it to the ground, and finally driving a stake into its chest. She brushed the dust from her shirt sleeves before joining her sister on the gravestone. “That’s just after effects of the spell, Dawnie. And trust me when I say, they will not want to be reminded.” Buffy slipped an errant strand of hair behind her ear as she glanced at the papers in Dawn’s lap.
“Yeah-huh. Says you. I think it’s cute.”
“You think everything’s cute right now. You’re getting married. You’ve been programmed to find everything cute. Besides, the more important thing we should be discussing is where am I gonna sit?” Buffy made a grab for the seating chart, only to have Dawn playfully push her off the stone, before she gathered her things and began to head out of the graveyard.
“Uh, uh. No way. You don’t get to find that out until you get yourself a date.”
“Dawn – “
“No. No buts. I don’t care if you have to go scrounging at the local demon haunts. It has been way too long since you had a date and I am not going to put up with a mopey sister at my wedding. You hear me?”
“Oh, I hear you. I hear you and I think that every vampire, demon, and corpse in a three mile radius hears you as well. I just somehow don’t think that’s going to make that much of a difference in the disaster that is Buffy Summers dating life.”
“Oh, I don’t know. That last guy you dated – Brian? He was kind of cute.” Dawn pointed a finger at her sister threateningly. “And don’t even start on the whole ‘programmed to be cute’ thing again, got it?”
Buffy smiled and raised her hands in a warding gesture. “All right, all right, no more programming.” She sighed heavily before she continued. “Yeah, Brian was cute. And sweet. And a banker. And possibly just slightly more boring then lint.”
“Well, at least he wasn’t evil.”
“I don’t know. Bankers can be pretty evil.”
“Anya always liked them.”
“Yeah, well Anya never had them turn her down for a loan in four languages.” Dawn laughed at her sister, before the pair grew silent again as they headed home. Buffy’s thoughts drifted off to nearly forgotten memories and she glanced up at the stars overhead before refocusing on the path in front of her.
A glance to her left revealed the tall, slender shape of her sister, outlined in the silver starlight. Buffy couldn’t help the swarming feeling of pride as she watched her little sister, once so lanky, glide smoothly through the headstones. Pride that Dawn had done so well for herself. Pride that she’d fallen for a wonderful man, even if it did still give her the wiggins to think of her sister getting married, and pride that her life was moving along at such a fast pace. It had Buffy’s head ready to spin right off. She smiled softly at Dawn then, knowing that at least if nothing else, she had managed to do something right.
“You know, if you have trouble finding a date, you could always ask Andrew. I’m sure he’d love to be on the arm of the arm of ‘Buffy: Slayer of Vampyres!’ Give him some new material for that story he seems to be perpetually writing about you.”
“Oh no! Hear me now, I have never been, nor will I ever be, that desperate for a date. In fact, when you put it that way, it really makes hitting up those demon bars you mentioned sound like a promising alternative.”
Dawn smirked at her sister. “Yeah, you only find the idea of hanging out at demon bars to be appealing when threatened with dating Andrew.”
“Hey! I resent that remark! You make it sound like I hang at a demon bars to pass the time or something, which is totally not true.”
“Uh-huh. Someone’s in serious denial.” Dawn’s pointed look made Buffy snap her mouth shut before she could argue further.
“No, no. No denial. Denial and Buffy have gone their separate ways. Besides, this whole conversation is unnecessary.” Buffy frowned ever so slightly, nibbling on her bottom lip, “I have an idea of whose arm I might be able to twist into joining me for your wedding.”
“Oh? Do tell. Because not more then five minutes ago you were getting ready to declare a vow of celibacy.”
“I’ll let you know if it pans out. No reason to jinx an already highly cursed social life if I don’t have to.”
“Fine. But know this. I’m putting you down for two meals, and so help me, if you show up without this mystery-date of yours, you’ll owe me $65. Understood?”
Buffy couldn’t help but laugh at her sister, as she waited, hand out-stretched for Buffy’s agreement. Buffy clasped her sister’s hand in her own, squeezing a little more then necessary, and getting a tiny bit of pleasure out of seeing her wince. “Understood.”
Six Weeks Later – New York City
Spike dodged his attacker, kneeling down behind a conveniently placed pile of crates, and waited. He’d long ago perfected the art of hiding in the shadows. It was a necessary skill that any vampire hoping to survive more then a week needed to learn. Spike had honed the art under Angel and Drusilla’s watchful eyes, and violent tempers. It had allowed him to prolong the hunt when needed, or simply evade where required. Skills that were coming in mighty useful as he wiled the day away playing video games.
If Drusilla had told him back then, that one day he would use his skills as a hunter to advance levels on a PlayStation - or to hide like a lovesick teenager beneath the Slayer’s window, box of chocolates in hand, which was honestly just a step below video-gaming in disturbing, time now allowed him to recognize - well, let’s just say he would have had a hard time believing her, and leave it at that.
But still, the day had arrived when stalking Buffy, fighting the armies of hell, and playing a digitized character on his 19” telly, had become facts of life. The last more then half-dozen or so years of his life had shown him that he was capable of many things he would have once thought impossible. If he gave it some though, which he had. A considerable amount to be sure. Pinpointing where it all started was easy enough. One, tiny blond spitfire of a Slayer named Buffy, whose mere presence in his life and caused him to change in ways he could barely fathom at times. He’d witnessed weirder things in his lifetime, but still it ranked at the top of a very long list.
Considering the amount of implausible scenarios he’d come up against in his one-hundred plus years on Earth, you’d think that he’d eventually stop being surprised at the circumstances that life chucked at him on a semi-regular basis.
But still, when the same Slayer that had changed the tilt of his world’s axis on more then one occasion before, showed up at his door – box of chocolates in hand – he did nothing more then blink.
“Yes. I believe that we have, in fact, established that I am Buffy, and you are Spike. Now, if we could just move along to the next phase in our conversation that would be super.”
“We were having a conversation?”
“Well. No. But not for lack of trying on my part. Although, to be honest, I think that this whole thing might go a little smoother if you stop blocking the doorway, and let a travel-weary girl in.” Spike continued to blink, much to Buffy’s exasperation. “Can I come in, Spike?”
This seemed to jar Spike from his stupor momentarily, as he stepped aside and allowed Buffy though the door. “Forgive a bloke. You’ve caught me a bit off guard. I wasn’t exactly expectin’ company.”
Buffy took in the empty beer and soda cans littering the coffee table, the stray clothes in a pile in the corner, a somewhat dirty axe tossed on top, and the flickering of the television before she arched a brow in Spike’s direction, a slight smile on her lips, “I can tell.”
“What are you doing here, Buffy?”
Buffy released a long weary sigh, as she played with the plastic wrapping covering the box in her hands, and Spike was genuinely surprised to note the nervous expression on her face.
“I guess claiming that I was in the neighborhood is a bit out of the question, huh?” Spike met her uneasy smile with a small one of his own. “I brought candy! Peace offering. Here.” Buffy shoved the now somewhat malformed box in Spike’s general direction.
“Peace offering, huh? Expecting the next apocalypse to break out in my kitchen, are we?” At her frown he added, “the gesture’s appreciated, though. Didn’t even have a few, yourself? That’s right impressive of you.”
“Impressive? No, not really. I bought two boxes. The other one met its fate somewhere over Greenland, I think.” She put on a cheery smile, “but hey! At least I know that they taste good, right?”
“Right.” Spike placed the box down on the table before offering Buffy a seat. He then watched with amusement as she went from sitting, legs crossed at the ankles and hands in her lap, to up and pacing the small width of the room, before sitting down again and starting the process anew.
Spike watched her in a sort of sad admiration as she tried to collect herself, trying to figure out what she was doing showing up at his door, baring chocolates no less, and coming up empty. He decided to put her out of her misery, and ask what he himself wanted to know, “how are you, Buffy?” Buffy stopped mid-pace, her eyes locking with his as she formed her thoughts.
“Dawn’s getting married.” Well. Not exactly what he’d been expecting to hear, but it was a damn sight better then the pacing.
“Guess the little Bit’s not so little anymore, then?”
“Not so much.”
“He’s good for her then? Treats her well?
“Yeah, he is, and he does. She met him when she was finishing her degree. Terrance. Big history buff, so he wasn’t completely clueless to the things that go bump as some of the other’s she’d dated. Think that’s what sold her on him initially.” She settled across from him at the table finally, rubbing her eyes for a moment before meeting his gaze again. “He kind of swept her off her feet.”
She looked good. Better then good, if he was being truthful. Older, with the start of laugh lines around her eyes, but they suited her. Her hair was a much darker shade then the last time he’d seen her, and the color made the green of her eyes shine all the more. She was visibly tired, but still she was as beautiful as ever, and it was almost physically painful to be so close to her after so long, and still not be able to close the distance between them. “You look good, Buffy.”
“So do you, Spike. I like the hair. It’s different.” He ran a hand through his shorter, less bleached locks, he’d lost his patience for it recently. “Yeah. Was time for a change, ‘s all."
He stood then, intentionally putting space between the two of them, and flinching internally when he saw Buffy’s face fall slightly. “So, when’s the wedding?”
Buffy blinked rapidly at him, seemingly lost in thought, “Huh? Oh. Right. The wedding. Three days.”
“Three? Three days? From now?”
“No Spike, from last week. Yes of course three days from now. Which is why I’m here, actually. Or rather it’s not the reason I’m here, so much as the excuse. I guess. I mean - I wanted to see you. I’ve wanted to see you for a long time, but I just…”
“Never got ‘round to it? S’okay. Really.” Spike had known for quite some time that she was aware that he was alive. The fact that she’d never bothered to contact him after he’d sent Angel her way was all the proof that he’d needed that he’d made the right choice. Whether or not she was truly better off without him was inconsequential. What was of consequence was the fact that she seemed to think she was.
The angry look on her face as he spoke should have gave him pause, but anger was something he knew how to deal with, as opposed to the other myriad of emotions Buffy had been presenting since she materialized outside his door. “I’m sure that your life’s pretty full now, no time for the likes of me. How’s Angel by the way?”
“How’s Angel? What the hell does he have to do with anything? And what the hell is
‘no time for the likes of me’ supposed to mean, anyway? I’m the one that just hopped on a transatlantic flight to come see you, mister.” Buffy jabbed a finger at his chest, her cheeks flushing with her frustration. “I’m the one that had to have three separate locator spells done, just to be certain where I could find you. Not the other way around. So don’t start in on me, because you won’t have a leg to stand on.”
“Don’t you mean ‘don’t have a leg to stand on.’?”
“No. I mean won’t. As in, I will take them out from under you, if you don’t stop pushing me.” He watched her seethe, completely at a lost for why she was suddenly so angry at him. Hadn’t he given her what she wanted? Walked away with Angel practically served up to her on a silver platter, complete with heartbeat?
“How is my asking after your lesser half, pushing exactly? I’d think you’d be singing his praises right ‘bout now.”
“Are we having the same conversation? What lesser half? Exactly when did you go the way of Drusilla and start talking in circles?”
Spike blinked, taken aback at her tone more then her words. Mixed in with the obvious irritation, she seemed genuinely confused.
“You mean, Angel and you aren’t…”
“No. No, Spike. We’re not.” Her features softened slightly, as she took a step away from him. “And you would already have known that if you hadn’t pulled the great disappearing act after you sent him on his way back in LA five years ago.”
“It wasn’t exactly a disappearing act. Just needed to lay low from the Senior Partners awhile, ‘s all. Didn’t Angel get ‘round to mentioning that?”
“He did. The fact still remains that you never once got a hold of me to tell me you weren’t dead yourself! Let alone fine and well and living it up in New York.” She glanced at his tiny apartment once more. “Or living in New York at any rate.”
“I was so incredibly angry at you. And so relieved. Angel shows up on my doorstep one afternoon. And by afternoon I mean, afternoon. And we talk. Just talk. About everything. He asks me about you, and tells me about Nina. And then, before he leaves, he gives me the note. The one you left for him in that motel. And I just… I didn’t believe it. Didn’t believe that Spike, my Spike, would do something as boneheaded as that. And then I thought about it for about two seconds, and decided that no, no, you definitely would. And that if that was how you wanted to play it, then that’s how it would be. I figured that one day you’d get tired of being a martyr and come say hello. But you never did.”
“I wanted to. More than anything, but -”
“You just never got around to it? Yeah, I know how that goes.” Buffy wrapped her arms around her middle, and made her way over to the couch, clearing a spot off before settling herself into the cushions. The television had long since powered down, leaving the small space lit by only the lamp over the kitchen table. Spike watched as she rested her head along the back of the sofa, her eyes half closed, and her feet tucked up underneath her. A moment of hesitation passed before he joined her on the other end.
“Why are you here, Buffy? You said the wedding was just an excuse.” Spike knew that he was pushing his luck. But the things that she’d already said had given him hope, and he never had quite learned when enough was enough.
Spike sighed heavily, wishing for just once that he could truly understand this one woman. He managed to make sense out of a mad vampire’s ramblings on a semi-daily basis for more then a century, you’d think he could handle a perfectly sane slayer. “I get it. Where are you staying then?”
“No, Spike. You don’t get it.” Buffy’s head lolled to the side, her hair falling in a cascade across her face, partially obscuring her from view before she pushed the errant locks behind her ear, Spike’s fingers itching to follow the same path. “I’m tired of waiting. I’ve tried normal. It didn’t take. I don’t want some picket-fenced dream-version of what life’s supposed to be like. I just – I just want to wake up in the morning, and not feel like its just one more day where I get to pile on the regrets. And let’s face it. My expiration date has long since passed. The days that I have left are only getting fewer. I just want something that’s real. That I can grab onto, and never need to look back. Don’t you ever feel that way, Spike? Don’t you ever get tired of waiting for life to catch up with you and bite you in the ass?
Despite the seriousness of her words, Spike couldn’t stop a bark of laughter from escaping, “yeah, Pet. I do.” He leaned his head on the back of the sofa, his eyes sparkling in the dim light as he gazed at her. “So what’s that mean then?”
“It means, that you’ll come with me to the wedding, and we’ll take it one day at a time from there. Agreed?” She stuck her hand out for him to shake.
“Agreed.” Her hand lingered on his, her thumb slowly rubbing in circles on the back of his hand, as he enjoyed the feeling of her soft skin against his own.
“We have a lot to talk about you know.”
“And no more of this ‘doing what’s best for me stuff, or I’ll kick your ass. Got it?”
“Oh, and Spike?”
“Now would be the part where you kiss me.”
And kiss her, he did.