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Title: Whose Torment Is This, Anyway?
Author: Rebcake
Banner art: okdeanna
Pairing: Buffy/Spike, with appearances from some of the gang from both AtS and BtVS
Word Count: 1240
Rating: PG13
Summary: Six months after the battle of the Hellmouth, Buffy brings her team to Wolfram & Hart on a legal matter and finds that she’s been kept out of the loop in some important ways.
A/N: Some dialog in this chapter was lifted from the AtS episode, Destiny. All the standard disclaimers apply.

Chapter One on DW / Chapter One on LJ



Chapter Two: Are we there yet?

Buffy sat silent and ramrod straight in the back seat. Light occasionally flashed across her face as they passed gas stations and quickie marts, but once they entered the desert, she was thoroughly cloaked in darkness. Willow had learned to live with silence, mostly, and didn’t try to fill it up. Xander seemed focused on driving, but Willow knew his thoughts were miles and months away. He was in the past, with a lover who wasn’t coming back as a ghost or anything else. She was right there with him.

They finally pulled up to the ruins of the old opera house, incongruously crumbling into the sand. They parked next to two very shiny sports cars. Buffy was out the door and running before Xander shut off the engine.

“How much of this do you want to see?” he asked Willow.

“It’s probably better if she doesn’t have an audience. It’s going to be hard enough.”

“I can think of harder things.”

“Xander, all three of them have come back from the dead at least twice. In some ways, we’re the lucky ones.”

“Yeah? What ways are those?” His head fell back and he regarded the roof liner of the rental car. She tried to think of an answer, but it wouldn’t come.

“C’mon, it’s a beautiful night. Let’s go look at the stars. There could be meteor showers. Maybe our luck will change.”

“Sure. But no wishing.”

+++

Buffy wished she had a flashlight. She wanted to move fast, to get there before it was too late, but she was inching along, one hand on the wall, tripping over debris.

“This is stupid.”

She reached into her pocket and pulled out her lighter. Spike’s lighter. Until today, she had thought it was all that was left of him, and kept it with her. When she felt his loss most keenly, she held it, feeling its weight and being comforted by its slick coolness and the way her touch warmed it. In the blackest nights, she even cried over it. She hadn’t had much practice with its more useful attributes, though, so now she fumbled to light it. Finally lit, the faint light it gave was just enough to illuminate the more major obstacles strewn before her. She set out with a more determined stride.

The tilted hallway led to a balcony. As she entered from the back, she heard the fight. Heard the accusations.

“…all the dirty little things I’ve done! Drusilla sired me but you... you made me a monster.”

She sped to the front of the balcony, just in time to see Spike drive a stake into Angel’s shoulder. Angel screamed. Buffy looked around wildly for a way down to the stage, heart hammering in her chest. She knew she could call out, give fair warning, but hearing his voice seemed to have stolen her own.

“Probably should've dusted you. But honestly, I don't want to hear her bitch about it,” said Spike.

Spike strolled over to the ugly goblet sitting in a spotlight on top of a pedestal. Buffy tucked the lighter back into her pocket, and shimmied over the rail. She lowered herself until she was hanging from her fingertips and dropped lightly into the aisle below.

She spun just as Angel asked, “Do you even really want it? Or is it that you just want to take something away from me?”

Spike shrugged. “Bit of both.”

He raised the cup to his lips, focused completely on Angel. Buffy vaulted onto the stage and slapped the cup away. Acid green liquid arced through the air, and the cup landed with a clatter that seemed to echo for long minutes in the silence that followed.

Buffy stared at Spike, chest heaving. Spike blinked, his empty hand still raised. He looked from her to Angel and back again. He licked his lips.

“Well. Here we all are again,” said Spike.

So that was the way he wanted to play it. Fine. She jammed one fist onto her cocked hip. Somehow, she found her voice.

“You know, I was just kidding when I said you guys should wrestle it out.”

“Well, this wasn’t about you, Princess,” said Spike, eyes flashing. “Much.”

“Right.”

She turned and stalked over to Angel. She bent and yanked the stake out of his shoulder, none too gently. He writhed on the floor, holding in a manly scream.

“Sorry,” she said automatically. He shook his head and gave her a weak smile through the grimace of pain. She straightened and looked down at him.

“I cannot believe you didn’t call me! What is it with you and phones?” He eyed the stake she still held. She rolled her eyes and dropped it.

“I knew you had a lot on your plate, Buffy,” he said weakly. “Getting your organization set up is a big job. I didn’t want to disturb you unless it was important.”

“Important! This is my team we’re talking about, Angel. Nothing is more important than that. I lost my key guy, and you knew…you knew what that did to me.”

“You didn’t say anything…”

“Because I couldn’t talk! God. Even Kennedy could see I was in shock. Do you even know me anymore?” Angel struggled to sit up.

“What are you doing here, Slayer?” interrupted Spike. “Thought you were tripping the light fantastic in Europe.” She turned back to him.

“The wha? No, I came to LA on Slayer business and that Gunn guy told us about the ghostliness, and some fat lady, and I’m still a little con-“

“No. Why here?” He pointed at the stage beneath his feet.

She glared at him. “Friends don’t let friends drink the perpetual torment, Spike.”

“I see. That what we are, then? Friends?”

She stared at him for a long moment. “How can you even ask that? Of course we’re friends! We’re more than friends! I told you that I…” Buffy paused, and seemed to deflate. “Don’t you think we’re friends?”

Spike heard the tremor in her voice, and it eased him out of his battle-high in a way the sight of her hadn’t. Some of the things she’d said started to sink into a brain set on combat. Perhaps this wasn’t the time to fight. He struggled to shift gears. What had she asked again? Right. Friends.

“Yeah. That’s us. BFFs. Just what I always wanted,” he said.

Buffy’s expression wavered between relief and annoyance. He’d seen that look before. Angel coughed. Spike sighed.

“Alright. C’mon grandpa, time to stop malingering.” He walked over to where Angel had collapsed onto the floorboards again and held out a hand. “Upsie daisy.” He hauled Angel to his feet. “We’ve got to get back to the batcave and see if the labcoats can figure out who’s yanking our chain.”

“What do you mean?” asked Buffy and Angel together.

Once Angel was standing unaided, Spike walked over to pick up the goblet where it lay in the shadows. He ran a finger around the inside of the bowl and touched it to the tip of his tongue. Buffy and Angel both started toward him.

“Yep. Mountain Dew. Good joke,” he said. At their incredulous looks, he shrugged. “Smelled it before. It seems like a lot of trouble to break down the walls of reality for a prank, though. Somebody must really want to annoy you,” he said to Angel. “Besides me, I mean.”


Continued in Chapter Three: We’ve got to talk...

This entry was originally posted at http://rebcake.dreamwidth.org/27051.html. Please comment here or there using OpenID.

Comments

( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
zanthinegirl
Oct. 3rd, 2012 07:21 pm (UTC)
Friends don’t let friends drink the perpetual torment, Spike.

Hee!

And Yeah! Update! I don't have anything really profound to say other than that I'm enjoying this story, and enjoying your world building. Everybody's in character, especially Angel. And I love him best when he's being a little petty.

Looking forward to tomorrow!

eta: I love the Spike & Buffy bit too. They're both so insecure; you capture that well.

Edited at 2012-10-03 07:22 pm (UTC)
rebcake
Oct. 4th, 2012 03:04 am (UTC)
Glad to get a grin! Angel...doesn't have a lot to do in this story. He has made his bed by not being a team player with the Slayers, and now he has to lie in it all by his lonesome. Which is apparently just how he likes it. Git. Heh. (I crack myself up.)

Tomorrow things take a turn for the more communicative! Who'd have guessed?

Thanks for commenting, sweetie!

Edited at 2015-05-08 04:39 am (UTC)
hello_spikey
Oct. 3rd, 2012 07:36 pm (UTC)
Wooo! Just lovely. Love all the tensions.

And this:
Friends don’t let friends drink the perpetual torment

Hooot! Such a Buffy line. Loved it.

Yes, just delightful. I even forgive you the lack of anything remotely kinky. *mwah*
rebcake
Oct. 4th, 2012 03:27 am (UTC)
Heh. I'm glad you liked that line. Of course she'd say that! It had the added benefit of getting Spike all off-track about friends vs. more-than-friends, and letting his insecurities off leash. Silly boy.

Oh look: I'm talking about Spike and leashes. Hmmmm.

Thanks for your kind comments, darlin'.
brutti_ma_buoni
Oct. 3rd, 2012 09:39 pm (UTC)
Mwahaha, yes Spike. Indeed, someone must want to annoy Angel.

Enjoying this; a light touch for such big issues gives me hope for them.
rebcake
Oct. 4th, 2012 03:47 am (UTC)
I think the reason the story was so long delayed was that I was having trouble keeping the tone light in the next act. At some point, all parties have to show that they are sincere before things can move on, and that's not the natural habitat of these war-buffeted people. Well, maybe Angel. ;-) Hey! Maybe that's why some people get such a kick out of annoying him!

I'm glad you're enjoying. Thanks for commenting.
red_satin_doll
Oct. 4th, 2012 12:18 pm (UTC)
Xander seemed focused on driving, but Willow knew his thoughts were miles and months away. He was in the past, with a lover who wasn’t coming back as a ghost or anything else. She was right there with him.

Oh thank you for that! I love seeing fic where Anya's sacrifice is actually acknowledged (the Scoobies share a lot more in common with each other at the end of Chosen than they did at the beginning of the show.) Yay again for having everyone in character. Buffy and Spike's "issues" are nicely finessed - of course Buffy isn't going to make a big freakin' declaration right there, esp after Spike failed to even contact her. (*hugs Buffy and her issues*)
rebcake
Oct. 4th, 2012 03:36 pm (UTC)
I really wanted more about Anya's loss in this, but it kept pushing the story off track. I've always appreciated stories that look at how all of the Core Four have lost their lovers to the fight. Poor babies.

The beauty of having Buffy show up now is that Spike can't really be blamed for not contacting her. He had to rely on Angel for things like picking up the phone while he was incorporeal. That's why Angel gets the brunt of the Slayer's ire here. In canon, Spike talks himself out of contacting her when he's finally able to, and that's all on him. It's one more wedge between then...but not in this story!

Thanks for commenting.
red_satin_doll
Oct. 7th, 2012 12:38 am (UTC)
I really wanted more about Anya's loss in this, but it kept pushing the story off track. I've always appreciated stories that look at how all of the Core Four have lost their lovers to the fight. Poor babies.

Can you rec any good fics that cover this theme? (I'm very picky about good characterization, btw)

That's why Angel gets the brunt of the Slayer's ire here

Oh I always assumed that if Buffy found out, that Angel would get an earful as well - and possibly a punch in the gut. Buffy unleashed is an awesome force of nature.

rebcake
Oct. 7th, 2012 06:31 pm (UTC)
I can't think of any specific "we've all lost our lovers" stories off the top of my head. My favorites are usually short, immediately post-Chosen ones. Like, after the battle, once they've stopped for the night and they have 2 seconds to reflect, and it all comes crashing down and seek each other out. Sorry I don't have more detailed info.
shapinglight
Oct. 4th, 2012 12:45 pm (UTC)
Hee! I love the Spike dialogue. It's very him.
rebcake
Oct. 4th, 2012 03:40 pm (UTC)
Oh, good! I didn't get a Brit check! Of course, this part was written years ago, so I'm assuming I was in the zone, Spike-wise. He gets a little more "souled-Spike" in the remaining chapters, but hopefully it's not too off.

Thanks for commenting, sweetie!
waddiwasiwitch
Oct. 4th, 2012 10:41 pm (UTC)
Buffy's entrance was great. Spike tries to pay it cool for a couple a seconds. Bless him and his insecurities. Oh and the last line was like the best part.
rebcake
Oct. 4th, 2012 11:24 pm (UTC)
Buffy's entrance was great.

Heh. I like the fight scenes in Destiny a ton*. Why should the guys get all the great action, though?

I'm glad you enjoyed various bits in this. It was the part that came easiest, inspired by the excellent artwork by OKDeanna.

*Other favorite fight scene? Buffy/Faith in Graduation Day. Whoa, Nellie!
estepheia
Oct. 7th, 2012 03:17 pm (UTC)
Best bit: Xander seemed focused on driving, but Willow knew his thoughts were miles and months away. He was in the past, with a lover who wasn’t coming back as a ghost or anything else. She was right there with him.

Man, I miss Anya!
Makes me wonder, did anyone ever bother writing an Anya-comes-back-from-the-dead fic?

Anyway, I'm really enjoying this story. And I'm seriously getting into the mood to rewatch AtS S5, so thank you!
rebcake
Oct. 7th, 2012 06:17 pm (UTC)
I can't think of any Anya back from the dead fic, though I've read lots where she is a sort of guardian spirit after Chosen, along with Tara, Joyce, Jenny, or Cordelia. There are rewrites where she doesn't die, or Sunnydale doesn't collapse, and she's still with us, too. So there is post-Chosen Anya fic, but I'd say there is room for a resurrection story. You want that bunny?

I'm glad you're enjoying this. Thanks so much for letting me know. "Destiny" is my favorite AtS 5 episode, though any of them with flashbacks is worthwhile, IMO. Have fun!
red_satin_doll
Oct. 24th, 2012 03:09 pm (UTC)
I recently read a Giles/Anya story post-Chosen - AU, Giles loved Anya and is mourning her (Xander isn't in this one) and she comes back as a ghost to help him heal (and is apparently corporeal, so they can have sex). Willow and Buffy are in the story a little, visiting Giles. Yeah, very AU. Did I bookmark it? of course not, but if I find it I'll post the link.

Although - Tabula Rasa? Comedy GOLD. Boy I wish they'd gone that route "We really are attracted to each other and can't admit it". They make Xander/Anya look boring. Just like Buffy with Spike - but, alas, another lost opportunity.

relurker
Oct. 8th, 2012 05:09 pm (UTC)
Yum! You're so good with their voices, and the way you go "no wishing--Buffy wished..."
I really like your Destiny revisited, and it's so refreshing to have W. and X. choose to stay out stargazing.
rebcake
Oct. 8th, 2012 05:21 pm (UTC)
Aw, thanks! I always liked the fun little segues on the show ("Is she tough?" "Ow!") so I was tickled to be able to put one into this.

Willow and Xander are able to see that this is more of a personal matter than a Slayer one, and to let Buffy do what she needs to. I'm proud of them for getting there.

I'm glad you can believe the voices. It's both the most fun and most frustrating part of the job!
red_satin_doll
Oct. 8th, 2012 05:26 pm (UTC)
“Friends don’t let friends drink the perpetual torment, Spike.”

Love this.
rebcake
Oct. 8th, 2012 06:09 pm (UTC)
Aw, thanks.
red_satin_doll
Oct. 24th, 2012 03:11 pm (UTC)
Ok I know I already commented but - I just reread this and realized that in a couple of weeks I'd forgotten the Xander/Willow scene ('cause of ADD, you know.) And was struck all over again by how much I liked it, how subtle it is, and the mention of Anya sitting right there next to him (in his mind) - that's just love.
mierke
Dec. 5th, 2012 10:28 am (UTC)
Xander seemed focused on driving, but Willow knew his thoughts were miles and months away. He was in the past, with a lover who wasn’t coming back as a ghost or anything else. She was right there with him.
Love how you put so much emotion in just this one sentence. Never thought about how this would not only affect Buffy - but also the people who will never get their loved ones back. I totally get Xander's almost-anger.

“You didn’t say anything…”

“Because I couldn’t talk! God. Even Kennedy could see I was in shock. Do you even know me anymore?” Angel struggled to sit up.

Love this part; how angry she is at Angel and how desperate Angel wants to get out from under her anger.
rebcake
Dec. 5th, 2012 10:59 pm (UTC)
One of the things that I like to see explored in fic is the shared experience of all the evil-fighters. Giles lost Jenny, Willow lost Tara, Xander lost Anya. Buffy lost Angel and Spike, and everybody lost Buffy, even if those losses didn't entirely take. Ultimately, Angel loses most of his team (Doyle, Fred, Cordelia, Wes, and most probably Gunn). Those are just the deaths — the core Scoobies all were abandoned by their lovers at some point, as well.

How they all deal (or not) with their grief is worth exploring, I think.

My take on the post-Chosen world of Slayers and Vampires is that Angel keeping the return of Spike secret from Buffy makes working together an impossibility. How could you trust an ally that kept that from you? In this case, Buffy finds out so close to Spike's "real" return that it might not be an issue, but Angel's got to know he got off easy. ;-)
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )

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