AN: In the interest of heading off any questions or misconceptions (and to avoid answering the same questions over and over), I thought I’d best say a few words about the new dimension. It is similar to the other two dimensions, in that there are vampires and demons, there are/have been slayers, people speak English (in the country in which Buffy found herself), and in many other ways. However, it is not a duplicate of the first two dimensions; which, if you recall from the first story were identical in pretty much every way except the time frame and those events that Buffy’s presence was changing. This new dimension is much different in several key ways: it is colder, there is no Sunnydale as such, there are no doppelgangers for every character in the old Sunnydale; and those that do appear may or may not be like their counterparts. In other words, it has had a very different history, which has made it very unlike the other two dimensions/worlds in many ways. I’m asking that you have a bit of patience as this world slowly unfolds and trust me to explain the things that might seem puzzling. I’m not going to do spoilers in my review replies, so don’t expect answers to questions that I already know will be answered a few chapters down the road. :) On the other hand, if you think you’ve caught me digging a giant plot hole, by all means, let me know! It would be nice to know that while it is still early enough in the story that I can find a way to fill it in before I disappear into it, never to be seen again...
As they walked slowly toward the cemeteries that Buffy had planned to patrol that night, she suddenly remembered the questions she was going to ask him. She glanced at his expressionless face and wondered if this might not be a bad time to ask him anything. Although he had quickly returned to the kitchen, shrugging on his coat and nodding towards the door, which he then held open for her, he had been uncharacteristically silent while they walked and Buffy was sure that he was still angry or hurt by her words.
(He must have his soul. How else could his feelings get hurt? Vampires don’t have feelings…do they?)
He turned his face towards her and cocked an inquisitive eyebrow, but said nothing.
“Do you—I mean, if you helped me-her, and if you think you were falling in…in love with her, does that mean you have a soul? Like Angel does?”
She’d traveled several more steps before she realized that Spike was no longer beside her, and she stopped to look over her shoulder. She froze, one hand reaching involuntarily for the stake in her waistband, as she watched the silent snarling her question had evoked. She backed away cautiously, the stake clutched tightly in her fist as she watched the vampire that she hardly knew struggling to control his demon. Only when he had gone back to his human face, did she let out the breath she had been holding; but she kept her grip on the stake when she looked into the cold blue chips that were his eyes.
“Listen up, Slayer,” he said slowly. “I’m only going to say this once. I am nothing like that miserable pillock that you had the misfortune to meet first. I do not have a soul, and I don’t think I need one – in spite of what the other me may have---“ He stopped himself abruptly and began walking again, his steps forceful and rapid.
Trying to digest what he’d said – both about Angel and about his other self, Buffy remained standing where she was, watching him disappear down the street. When he gave no sign of slowing down and didn’t look back in her direction, she gave herself a little shake and began to jog after him. By the time she caught up, he was already inside the cemetery gates and had thrown himself into small group of vampires that were clustered around a new grave.
Instead of joining in, Buffy watched as he punched and kicked his way through the vamps, his motions fluid and graceful even as his angry words drifted to her ears.
“Don’t need a bloody soul to love her or anybody else. And if I had one, it wouldn’t be so loose that the first good shag would knock it out of me. Don’t care what the other me did to make him want to get one – there’s not a woman in the world worth that kind of pain.”
As he finished speaking, he was twisting the head off the remaining vampire and stood, surrounded by dust and breathing heavily. Buffy was just opening her mouth to ask him why he was breathing so hard – something that Angel never did – when the soil over the grave erupted and a bewildered fledgling began to crawl out.
“I’ll get this one!” she said eagerly, then hesitated. “If it’s okay with you…I mean,” she added slowly.
“Help yourself, pet,” he said with a small smile. “I think I worked off most of my temper tantrum.”
She returned his smile tentatively, then leaned over the snarling vampire that was still struggling to emerge from the heavy clay soil.
“Are you stuck?” she asked cheerfully. “Here, let me help you.”
She yanked the confused fledgling out with one hand and pushed the stake through his chest with the other. As soon as the dust settled, she smiled up at Spike.
“I’ve got to say, there’s something to be said for being this strong – even if I am kinda banged up.” She ruefully fingered the bite marks on her neck and remembered the big scar on her belly. She glanced at the ropy flesh on her left palm and made a face.
“They’re just scars, luv. Hard-earned and honestly come by. Try to think of them more as badges of honor.”
“Easy for you to say – you’re a guy. Your scar is sexy. Mine are just…scars.”
As she realized what she’d said, she felt the heat flood her face and hoped that it was too dark for him to see her blush. His rich chuckle told her it was a vain hope and she sighed as she waited for him to say something that would make her blush even more. To her surprise, he just continued to laugh softly, finally saying quietly, “To another warrior, yours are sexy too, pet. Trust me.”
She tipped her head to one side and looked at him speculatively.
“You just keep surprising me,” she admitted. “I was expecting something more…innuendoish.”
He shrugged. “I’m trying to remember that you aren’t the girl I left behind – much as you might look and sound and smell like her.”
“Smell like her? Ewwww, Spike!”
He cocked his head at her. “Vampires have a very highly developed sense of smell, pet. Surely your watcher – or the bloody great poof – has told you that?”
It was his first voluntary mention of Angel and Buffy seized on it immediately, ignoring the little voice that was asking how she knew he was referring to her vampire boyfriend.
“Angel would never smell me! That’s just…just…gross!”
“Whatever you say, Slayer.” He turned away, refusing to discuss his grandsire with the girl who clearly still thought she knew him well. He began walking farther into the cemetery, hoping to come across something else upon which to take out the emotions that Buffy continued, so innocently, to provoke. She trotted after him, tugging on his sleeve when he didn’t turn around right away, then dropping her hand immediately when he did stop.
“Wait, Spike,” she said softly. “I wanted to talk to you tonight.”
“About Angel – and why…why you didn’t say anything about him when you were telling me about Sunnydale. Where—did something happen to him?” The fear in her eyes and voice caused him to soften his automatic growl and he shook his head slowly.
“Got nothing to say ‘bout him, pet. We had a bit of run-in, the Slayer put him in his place, and not too long after that, I got yanked out of Sunnyhell. I guess he’s still there.” His face darkened as he realized that he’d left Buffy in the same town as his grandsire who was not likely to give her up easily. His long string of curses went on until he noticed this Buffy fingering her stake again and he stopped with a sigh. “Sorry, luv. I just realized that if I’m not there, she’s going to have to face that big git by herself.”
“What do you mean ‘face him’? It’s Angel! He loves me…doesn’t he?” Her voice got small as she took in the sympathetic expression on the vampire’s face. “He does!” she insisted, stepping closer to him and thumping on his chest with her fist. “He does. He said so…he loves me…”
Suddenly, she was pounding on his chest and crying as the accumulated emotions of the past year overwhelmed her iron control. Hesitantly, he put his arms around her slender body and began rubbing soothing circles on her back as he murmured insincere but calming platitudes about how it was all going to be all right. He made no attempt to hold her any tighter, nor did he give in to the impulse to drop kisses on her head as the familiar scent filled his nostrils.
(Not my Buffy. This one doesn’t love any version of me. She’s in love with Angelus, and nothing I can say or do is gonna change that. Know her too well to think she’s gonna give him up that easily.)
“Oh, god,” she sniffled, pulling away until he dropped his arms. “I’m so sorry. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’ve been here all this time and I never cried. Not once.”
“ ‘s alright, pet. Bit much to take in, innit? Knowing that you might not be gettin’ back like you’d been thinkin’. I’m getting right used to having the Slayer snottin’ all over me.” He smiled to assure her that he wasn’t complaining and was gratified to see her face clear up.
“Did she – the other Buffy – does she cry a lot?”
“Some,” he admitted. “Seemed like everything I said or did for a while there set her off. Was starting to get a complex...”
“And now here I am crying all over you, too,” she said, flushing with embarrassment – both for herself and the other Buffy. Trying to change the subject, she asked, “What did she cry about?”
“Um...me, mostly. I mean, not me, but the me that she...that she was in love with. I kept remindin’ her of him and she...it made her sad.”
“You couldn’t make her happy?” she asked in all innocence, frowning when he laughed heartily before answering.
“Did m’ best. luv. I did my best. I think I was...” He shook himself. “Doesn’t matter, does it? I’m not there any more either. I just hope...I hope she doesn’t think I left because I didn’t want to be there - with her.”
“I’m sure she knows you didn’t, Spike. Didn’t you tell me you were with her when you got yanked?”
He nodded, unwilling to trust himself not to tell her just how much he had been with Buffy when he’d disappeared.
“Well, then, she knows you didn’t leave on purpose. I guess she’ll miss you –just like I miss Angel, but she’ll know it wasn’t your fault.”
Something about her innocent confidence and the way she calmly talked about missing Angel wrenched at him and he had to force a smile as he agreed with her.
“I’m sure you’re right, pet. It’s not like she doesn’t already know what it’s like to be one place one minute and somewhere else the next.”
The lengthy discussion and Buffy’s tears had taken their toll on any urge either of them had to do more slaying, and, without discussion, they turned and began to walk out of the cemetery. Buffy avoided any mention of Angel for the rest of the night, instead grilling Spike all through her usual after-slaying meal about Willow and Xander and anyone else he could remember meeting. He did his best to fill her in, not having really paid that much attention to the other teenagers around her and struggling to remember their names and to find something to tell her about each of them.
He did remember that Buffy had blamed Willow for doing a spell that sent her back into her sixteen-year-old body and he talked a bit about Willow’s growing magical abilities, surprised when Buffy rolled her eyes at hearing that Willow was getting more into magic.
“What’s wrong, pet? I haven’t even begun to tell some of the things she did...”
“I don’t want to know.” She put her hands over her ears. “After that mess with Amy’s mother last year, I can’t believe she would want to do anything magical. Willow’s smart! She’s going to be President some day. She doesn’t need magic.”
She lowered her hands and stared at him intently. “But, if I did want to know, what could you tell me? Do you know everything that’s going to happen in Sunnydale? Am I...is Angel...will we...?” Her voice trailed off as she remembered how he always reacted to hearing Angel’s name.
“I couldn’t tell you much, Slayer.” Already she knew him well enough to know that calling her ‘Slayer’ meant that he was angry, but his face showed only a quiet resignation. “And I don’t think I should, even if I could. Buffy – the other Buffy –“
“Your Buffy,” she put in quietly, surprised when he shook his head.
“No, luv. She’s not mine – think the soddin’ Powers-that-like-to-bugger-people have made that pretty clear by yanking me away jus’ when we were...” He stopped to regroup, then continued, “She’s the one I know best, yeah; but we really didn’t have that much time together, and she spent most of it drivin’ me crazy with all her “I know you” bollocks.” He grinned faintly at the memory of all the times she’d teased him by knowing things about him that even Dru hadn’t known.
“She didn’t really tell me very much about what had happened to her. And she’s doin’ her best to keep some of it from happenin’ this time around, so I don’t think I should tell you the things I do know. Not unless I have to for some reason,” he added, seeing the glare building on her face. He thought about Joyce and the fact that it was very possible she was going to be dead within a few years and shook his head again. “Some things you don’t need to know – they aren’t gonna happen here, in this world; and they aren’t gonna happen in that one if the Slayer can prevent them. No point in making yourself unhappy...or...or worried for no reason.”
She made no response, her face tight and closed as she focused on finishing her food. Spike watched carefully as her expression softened, breathing an unnecessary sigh of relief when her shoulders relaxed and she looked up at him with a small smile. Cleary she had come to some sort of decision as she took up the thread of the conversation with no acknowledgment of her lengthy silence.
“So, tell me about the other you, then. The one that old me is in love with. Where do you think he is?”
“Hell,” he replied shortly, then relented. “Maybe not Hell, if what the slayer tells me I – he – did for her.”
She frowned in confusion and he realized that he had only told her that the future him was dust – not how or why he got that way. With an embarrassed shrug, he said quickly, “He wore some sort of amulet for her – to be her ‘champion’ and it allowed him to help her defeat the First Evil and its army. Burned me – him – to a crisp in the process. Bet that stung like a bitch,” he added, muttering more to himself than to her.
“You helped save the world?”
The big-eyed admiration on her face was making him warm inside until she followed it with, “Future you must have a soul then! Just like An-“ She caught herself as his face hardened again.
“Yeah,” he gritted out. “But I went and got mine – earned it for her. Didn’t get it shoved into me like your precious Angel – and mine didn’t go anywhere. It wasn’t a curse that could be broken by a---“ He broke off at the confused horror on her face.
“A-Angel lost his soul? It isn’t permanent?”
“It’s over and done, Slayer. Don’t worry yourself about it. Your little red-headed witch friend put it back before he could do too much damage. He’s all back to his broody self now.”
“How...” Ignoring the way Spike’s face had shut down, Buffy persisted, “...how did he lose it? What happened?”
“Seems like there’s a little escape clause – if the bloody bastard gets too happy, the soul pops right out. Just like that. Bit of an oversight on the part of the gypsies, innit?”
“How awful for him!” Sympathetic tears filled Buffy’s eyes as she thought about what it meant. “He can never be happy? Poor Angel!”
“Yeah, well, it’s not all that wonderful for the people around him either, pet. Don’t waste too many tears on it. Last thing in the world you or anyone else wants is for that nasty bugger to get real happy. Trust me,” he added as she frowned dubiously.
“What made him so happy that he lost his soul? Didn’t the other Buffy know how to keep it from happening?”
“She thought she did,” he responded gruffly. “Turns out she’s not the only---“ He stopped himself with a visible effort. “You know what, Slayer? I think I’ve had about all the reminiscin’ about my grandsire that I can handle for one night. What say we go get some ice cream for you before we go home?”
Still mulling over the things he’d said, as well as the things he just as clearly hadn’t said, she nodded dumbly and followed him to the door. This time, when Spike left some money on the table, the proprietor just nodded his thanks and waved them out the door.
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