Again the banner was made by sandy_s. It inspired this fic. She graciously gave it to me and personalized it for this story. Also, spikeslovebite, love ya, girl.
Chapter Two – “New Understanding”
Buffy fidgeted in her seat for the billionth time. She knew that the undercover air marshals must have her under observation, but frankly she didn’t care. She got that her twitchiness meant that she made people nervous, but her emotions were a swirl of anger, resentment, happiness, regret, sadness, elation, fear, anxiety, and hope that she physically couldn’t be still.
She pretended to watch the in-flight movie, complete with wearing the earphones, but she had the volume turned almost to mute. She needed to process everything that had happened in the last twenty-four hours. So much had occurred, yet, nothing could be resolved until she landed in Los Angeles.
Much like she had when she’d first opened her eyes in her coffin a little over two years ago, Buffy awoke gasping for air. She clung to her sheets as if grasping for something to catch her. Her body had sweated and soaked her sheets and her hair was a mess of tangles.
Her first word upon waking was more of a scream, “Spike!”
Buffy tried to recapture the last images of her dream before releasing her death grip on the sheets. She’d just started to calm down, when Dawn rushed into her room, clad in her pajamas. The concern on Dawn’s face almost broke her heart…almost. She loved her sister, she really did, but a part of her would never forgive her for kicking her out of the house and treating Spike like she had. Not that she was one to cast stones in that department, but still, that last year…
Buffy knew part of Dawn’s concern was over her fear that Buffy was regressing. For several months after Sunnydale, Buffy had recurring nightmares about Spike. Everyone thought she had gotten past it…whatever they imagined happened. She’d kept it from everyone.
“I love you.”
“No you don’t, but thanks for saying it.”
Buffy had learned a long time ago how everyone thought she should act, so after awhile she’d begun going through those old motions. Shopping, patrolling, training…repeat as necessary. But no one really knew her inner most wishes and desires. No one. Once again, she was alone…alone in a world that now had an army of Slayers.
She knew they had all been surprised how she’d treated Angel and his crew when they arrived in Los Angeles after the destruction of Sunnydale. She guessed everyone thought she would rush head-long into the waiting arms of her “soul mate” and live happily ever after. But that had not happened, and it never would.
Now that Angel was a part of Wolfram & Hart, she no longer trusted him at all. When they’d arrived at the Hyperion, a messenger from Wolfram & Hart had been there to inform them of the change of address. Buffy had been incensed but held it in. Even Giles looked uncomfortable about the news.
She’d asked the messenger how long Angel had been working for W&H. When told over a week, Buffy easily put together the missing pieces of information that Angel had blatantly failed to tell her in Sunnydale, especially about the origin of the amulet. Her grief over Spike’s demise almost crippled her then. Her suspicions about whether Angel had known what the amulet would do grew.
Buffy thought her performance for Angel and his merry crew should have garnered her an Academy Award nomination. She acted her ass off. She’d answered their questions with a calm detachment, very like a soldier reporting in to his superiors. However, when that two-face son-of-a-Darla asked her about Spike, she wanted to claw out his brown eyes.
She couldn’t help the emotion that’d filled her voice, relating just how heroic and brave and stoic Spike had been in those last moments. When asked what exactly happened though, she clammed up. All she would ever tell anyone from now on was that Spike died a Champion.
So, seeing Dawn’s concern face was like a bucket of ice water had been thrown on her.
Buffy had quickly gotten out of bed and gathered a bag from her closet. She ignored Dawn’s questions while she started piling in clothes, changes of underwear, and shoes. When she grabbed a second bag for her toiletries and stakes, Dawn grabbed her by the shoulders. Buffy fought the urge to throw Dawn into the wall. Hadn’t she learned by now to never touch a preoccupied Slayer?
“Dawn, let go of me,” Buffy warned her.
“Buffy, what are you doing? You are scaring me. Why won’t you tell me what’s going on?” Dawn almost screamed.
“I have to take a trip. It involves one of the new girls,” Buffy said.
“What new girl? You know you don’t do that. Andrew does,” replied Dawn.
“Well, starting now, so do I. Now, I have to get going. Move,” ordered Buffy.
Dawn countered, “I’m calling Giles.”
“You do that, Dawnie. And while you’re at it, why don’t you ask him why he failed to tell me that Spike was back,” Buffy angrily spat.
“Buffy? What do you mean Spike’s back? I thought you said he died?” Dawn’s lip started to tremble.
Buffy started to feel guilty about snapping at Dawn, but then again, Dawn never knew that Spike had told her about Dawn’s threat to set him on fire. She would always love Dawn; she was her flesh and blood, but that didn’t mean she would ever forgive Dawn for kicking her out of her own home nor how Dawn had treated Spike after he got back. Buffy knew that she shouldn’t be the ones to cast stones in that regard, but someone had to stand up for Spike now.
“Well, I guess like me, death doesn’t take kindly to us. So, I’m going.”
Blowing out an exasperated breath, Buffy asked, “What?”
“When you find Spike, tell him to come home.”
Buffy stopped her maniac packing to really look at her sister. Dawn had shocked tears running down her face, snot dripped from her nose. Grabbing a tissue, Buffy handed it to Dawn. “Here, wipe your nose. So, you miss him too?”
“Yeah. I’m so mad at myself for…you know…being all distant with him after he got the soul. I just didn’t know how to act around him anymore…not after what he did to you and all,” Dawn sniffed.
Buffy bristled at the mention of the bathroom incident. It was time to clear the air about that – way past time. “Dawnie, sit down.”
Once seated, Buffy said, “Look, sometimes I wish you’d never found out about that night. It was one horrible mistake – both Spike’s and mine. I’d treated him horribly before that night, Dawn. And before you interrupt, I’m not making excuses for his behavior. It was wrong. But I can understand it, given how things were back then. I’d actually forgiven him about ten minutes after it happened. If you remember I had taken you to his crypt for Spike to watch over you. Now, I ask you, if I really mistrusted Spike after what had happened, would I have ever entrusted you, my precious sister, to his care?”
Dawn was silent.
“Well? I’m asking you. Do you think I would have trusted just anyone with your care?”
“No, I guess not. You did leave me with Clem though. Of course, Clem was…well, Clem,” Dawn said, smiling at the memory of the floppy-eared demon.
“Yeah. And I could just wring Xander’s neck for telling you his interpretation of what happened. It wasn’t his place to do so, nor were you at an age to hear about it.” Holding up her hand, Buffy kept Dawn from blurting out any argument. “You know mom would have felt the same way, so let’s not argue about it.”
“So, that’s why you let me back in the house when he came back all crazy?”
“Well, Dawn, I never even revoked his invitation. He could have come by anytime. What does that tell you?” Buffy smiled.
Dawn grabbed Buffy’s hands and said, “I want to go with you.”
“No. You have something called school, young lady. I know it’s a pain, but you do. Besides, I think I have to settle some matters once and for all, and I can’t be worrying about your safety while I do it.”
Disappointed but understanding, Dawn replied, “Okay. Just bring Spike home, Buffy. Please tell him that his niblet misses him.”
Running her hand down the side of Dawn’s head and hair, Buffy smiled. “I will. And you know me…I get the job done.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, we’ll be arriving at Los Angeles International Airport in approximately twenty minutes. The weather forecast is sunny with a mild wind, 75°F. The time is….”
The announcement broke Buffy from her reverie. Soon, Spike. Soon, I’ll be there. Just don’t do anything stupid first. Rolling her eyes immediately, she corrected her thoughts. Just be careful, Spike. I’ll be there soon.