A couple parts of this to start off tonight.
"Giles. He's going to be out tonight and the bodyguards will be busy."
"Buffy, what time is it?" Tired.
"Seven here. Must be six there."
"And what is it you have to report?"
"He just left the apartment; wants to take me out tonight but he has two major business rivals coming to town today. Won't say who they are but he needs to track them to keep some capo out of their hands until they leave."
"He just left your apartment at six in the morning?"
"Giles, do you remember what happened the last time you stuck your nose in my love life?"
"Very well, Buffy. It's just that Andrew had a, well, a disturbing point of view of your relationship with the target of this mission."
"Andrew isn't in on the mission, is he?"
"Good. Keep your nose out of my love life. And get your friend from Glenfiddich in here tonight if he's serious about this."
"It's Glenfinnan. And he's in New York City now."
"Spike always said you should have had Glenmorangie anyway."
"Maybe if he'd paid for his own scotch, he could have had a say on the roundness of the finish." Angry, then a pause. "Sorry Buffy, that's still a sore spot."
"Get your friend on a jet. Tonight's the night our guy will be out on the town and his bodyguards will be holding the capo."
"The Skeezy Immoral gone yet?" She's making french toast as Buffy steps out of the shower.
"Yes, Dawn. He left an hour ago."
"You know that when you leave early he gets up and he makes passes at me, don't you?"
"You've only reminded me a hundred times so far in the four weeks we've been dating." If only Dawn saw some of the other girls he did cheat on her with. "How is the french toast coming?"
"Great. It's Tara's recipe." Tara. "You want one slice or two?"
"Two. I miss Tara. And other people."
"Still can't say out loud that you miss Spike, can you? I miss him. I even miss when you were fucking Spike behind our backs. At least he tried to take care of us and didn't want to sleep with your underage sister."
"I miss Spike, too, Dawn. But he's gone. I'm with the Immortal now. And I'll ask him not to bother you in the mornings."
She could say it out loud now.
And she could ignore everyone's complaints about her boyfriend. Buffy no longer gave a damn what anyone had to say about whom she dated. Never again. That was the least she could do to remember Spike.
Spike would like this. She's really dipping into the dark side now, just like he said. Fucking the guy who started up the Rathrun colony in Frankfurt a century ago. Took ten slayers a year to control the Rathruns, and Vi broke her arm in three places. Thank goodness for slayer healing.
Sleeping with the mogul who engineered the Berlusconi fortune and set him up to be prime minister. Then ruthlessly exploited his control over the prime minister's resources, forcing him to pass off forged documents and underwrite a major war for the profiteers in the Halliburton demon clan.
Cuddling with the top client of Signora Costa Big-chi-chis at the world's evilest law firm. Yeah, Spike should like that.
Of course, it helped that he was fantastic in bed. Always knew just where to touch her and when to slip a finger in there. And he could keep it up for hours at a time.
The Immortal was her first partner in over two years and she had been a little worried. The new slayers were having trouble with their, um, needs. Human men aren't always resilient enough and tended to get bruised by a slayer's appetites. Rona wanted the council to open a training camp in Colorado Springs next to the Olympic Swim Team training center. Top endurance athletes from around the world would be fluming there and maybe the Council could sponsor some mixers. If there had been any demon activity nearby, they might have really done it.
But the Immortal was very good. Not screaming, building-smashing passion. She wan't in love, after all. But perfect technique and endurance was a lot better than celibacy. Good sex from a guy she didn't really have to care about.
Evil law firms had been on her mind recently. The slayer in Guatemala sent in a report that her tribe's shaman had suddenly recovered a magically suppressed memory. Some skank claiming to be a vampire was trying to prove that she was pregnant with Angel's baby. Of course, that was impossible. Even if Angel hadn't been forced to stay celibate these past six years for his soul, he couldn't father children. Vampire, after all. Must have happened after he agreed to take over at Wolfram and Hart. Filthy golddigger.
Seems like a good excuse to look into what Angel had been doing anyway. She had really stayed away more because of the amulet than because of any suspicion that Angel had gone evil. As long as he has the soul, he has to be on the side of good. And it wasn't his fault that Spike had to die. Angel had been willing to wear that amulet himself, after all. No, he wasn't to blame. Maybe she would visit him this Summer to gather intelligence for the Council.
Too much schmoop and exposition in this part, but I didn't see how to lose it. Parts Three and Four will be in my journal this week.
In those first few months after Sunnydale, she couldn't think about Spike at all. She would start to remember his face, his eyes, his arms around her and imagine being held one more time and then ache in the back of her throat and she couldn't breathe. Wanted to remember a tender moment but instead saw herself refusing to let him help with the cure to her demon sting. The morning after their first time when she picked a fight and said he was just convenient. Him apologizing for imagining a future with her before her date, "my eyes are clear," he said.
She could have made him understand then. Could have made him happy to make her the focus of his existence. Could still make up for it except that he wasn't there anymore or anywhere except the past. And she couldn't change any of it. She had to remember the past they had, the only thing they would ever have.
It wasn't the big moments. She never felt bad about the alley behind the police station; that was the kind of thing they had forgiven each other, even if they never discussed it. And Spike didn't have to feel bad about the bathroom anymore. She hoped he hadn't, anyway, at the end.
Little things. The way she always emphasized that it was over between them when they met new potentials. The way she looked away from him whenever they made eye contact in front of her friends. The way she could never be caught in a casual conversation with him. A million little moments lost for reasons she couldn't make sense of anymore.
So she went shopping. Needed a new wardrobe anyway. French couture. Italian leather. The summer a whirlwind across Europe.
She learned to edit her memories. Slice out the little bits that made her feel right and forget the moments before and after. She took the night she was resurrected. The night he looked up the stairs to her like she was the only thing in the world and the night he held her raw hands in his own. Told her about digging himself out of his own grave. She sliced out the next moment when she let go of him because her friends come in the house. Let him get chased out. Buffy took that moment and not the bit that came after and wrapped it up in imaginary crepe paper, put it into an imaginary mental jewelry box in her mind to take it out and examine it when she needed it.
Wanted to do the same with their last night together. But she couldn't. She knew his last words meant he hadn't been there with her. She told him too late and he simply hadn't been able to be there with her. But she didn't know until it was too late and now all she had was a last night with Spike where she had been alone without even knowing it.
Ice cream therapy.
She takes out her little mental jewelry box and a pint of gelato. Imagines taking out their first kiss in his crypt with his bruised lips and her dressed up as the robot. Unwrapping it and remembering. And tastes some fine ice cream.
The jewelry box was too empty, so she once tried adding the evening they were betrothed. It didn't feel quite right but she didn't give it up until she caught herself once shopping for thank you notes to send Willow.
This afternoon is the chance to take her memories out for one last time before everything changes. Again.
Giles called her a month ago about some sort of imminent gathering. Some amoral immortal creature was threatening to win a powerful prize. Nobody knew exactly what the prize was, but an old friend of Giles from his Ripper days knew how to fix it.
Unfortunately for him, the immortal in question had found a way to make himself invulnerable on consecrated ground. One hundred fifty years in a Tibetan monastery and he learned to cast a temporary holy enchantment anywhere he needed. Giles sent her a dossier and told her to find a moment when this immortal would be off guard and outside his regular haunts.
He actually called himself the Immortal. He had perfect cheekbones, deep brown eyes, and a smooth muscular chest. He was a little short, about five foot six, with curly brown hair but he looked enough like her vampire to prime her fantasy.
And for the first time since Sunnydale she took a mission. She hadn't even been out on a routine patrol since the day she had lost the only one she trusted to cover her back. Hadn't dusted a single vamp in almost a year. Just didn't feel anymore. Didn't feel her calling or who she was supposed to be.
A new mission. To seduce the centuries old guy with a dark past who may or may not be evil. But probably evil. Of course, Giles didn't really expect her to seduce him outright.
And her memories of Spike dulled a little as she snuggled his replacement. Snuggled for starters. The Immortal had given her greek vases and tribal stone carvings and objects d'art to decorate her apartment. Buffy wondered which ones marked the consecrated ground. It didn't matter; she would have to set him up in a public place. But it kept him around overnight while she used him to imagine her Spike.
She didn't have any pictures and she knew he would fade in her memory. She lost the man she loved and she would lose the intensity of her memories one day too. But it went faster when the Immortal was there. And she needed it to go faster. Even though she couldn't stand losing a piece of him again.
Spike is never coming back. He would want her to be Buffy again. She has to move on because the past is gone whether you cling to it or not.
So she eats ice cream. Two pints down now and working on a third.
Andrew comes home and she rushes into the bathroom to clean tears she didn't notice crying. Leaves the ice cream and the spoon out on the coffee table.
Buffy heads out at Eight to meet the Immortal at his favorite dance club. Dawn is staying overnight with a friend. Even Andrew will be heading out bar hopping the gay clubs with some lesbian friends later on.
Andrew adores the Immortal as much as Dawn hates him. Probably told Giles about Buffy fucking him. Giles has been hinting about unprofessional conduct of the mission and undue personal involvement all week.
Buffy doesn't care. She can complete her mission and have her Spike substitute one more night. It's all about moving on and this toy boyfriend is just the tool for moving on. She won't even need to worry about him any more after tonight.
Part Three is now up on my LJ.
Part Four is now up on my LJ.