Emails are welcome as are honest reviews. I respond to all correspondence.
Spoiler Alert: There are tidbits from past BTVS episodes and especially the Spanderverse series of stories.
Notes: Story number Twenty-One in the Spanderverse-universe, following “Spanderverse: Points of View, Four”.
Everything from the television series through the defeat of Adam also occurred as depicted, in the Spanderverse.
People’s thoughts are depicted in italics. You’ll find emphasis depicted with an underline.
Last Note re: Angel timeline: Again, Angel’s timeline is a bit skewed. Consider the Angel team in Pylea at the beginning on this story, despite the fact that it’s about a month early in the year for that adventure according to ATS’ production.
WARNING: Adult language and disturbing sexual content ahead. This story starts to curve close to Dark!Fic territory in later chapters.
Ch 4 – The Trip Northward
The central clock over Sunnydale’s First Presbyterian Church chimed the hour.
The weather was nearly breezeless and temperatures hovered at sixty degrees. There were no people out on the streets to enjoy the near-Spring temperatures, however. Army vehicles patrolled the streets as the residents remained indoors in cooperation with the final night of curfews. Even the Bronze and the newly restored Rain jazz club remained locked and dark.
The town remained locked up for the night, except, for there was always an ‘except’, for an underground club frequented by toughs and the very small motorcycle crowd. Scattered among the few dozen patrons were the usual assortment of vampires seeking their next meal, or sex, or more likely than not, both.
Among the crowd stood out a man who at first glance wouldn’t appear to belong in such a place. He sat at the bar, shooting straight shots of appallingly cheap bourbon and glaring at those around him, daring them to approach. He’d noted three vampires… two men and a woman, but couldn’t be bothered to confront them. The clientele in this place didn’t exactly seem like ‘innocents’ who deserved rescuing.
He was in one of his very few pair of jeans and a dark brown leather jacket. Under the jacket he wore a dark green turtleneck sweater and on his feet were dark black boots. His eyes were unusually dark… appearing nearly black in the smoky, dimly lit place.
After his sixth shot of the night, he scanned the crowd, searching. After several moments, he found what he was seeking. A woman, large breasts squeezed into a far too small top. She was blonde, though it appeared that came from a bottle. Her skirt rode high on her tad too chunky thighs. Her rear end was largish, and she wore three-inch heels. She was currently bent over a pool table, lining up a shot while shooting smoldering glances at a rough looking man in leathers, jeans and a ratty, black T-shirt.
The man from the bar crossed with confidence through the haze despite hobbling with a heavy cast around his ankle. He ended up directly behind the woman. He watched her make her shot then turned his obvious gaze to the ample curve of her ass as she stood, unaware of his attention. Her companion, however, was not as blind to him and scowled.
“Hey man, back off,” he menaced as he started around the pool table.
The woman turned then to see what her latest boyfriend was getting so testy about and found herself staring up into the darkest and most magnetic eyes she’d ever seen. The guy seemed a bit older than she usually found attractive and the way he was dressed seemed a bit too straight-laced for this place. She was far more attracted to the bad boy image. Despite this, she found herself captivated by those piercing, dark eyes.
“Hey, man,” her current squeeze, Randy said again. “Back off from my woman!”
“Is she yours,” the man from the bar asked. Giving Randy only the briefest of eye contact, he turned away disinterestedly. The man in leather chaps was thin with scraggly red facial hair and blue eyes that were bloodshot. He returned his penetrating gaze to the woman while still speaking to the man, “How much would you charge for a few hours with her?”
“She ain’t no whore! You’re talking about my mama. Now, I’m telling you to back off or I’m gonna bust your head wide open!”
The people directly around the table began to grow tense. Most nights here ended in a brawl of one sort or another. It was sort of expected… in fact, closing time generally came when the last one standing threw the last punch. A current of expectation and excitement coursed through the crowd. The man from the bar could feel the buzz in the air and it only added to his sexual need.
“Why don’t we let the lady decide who she wants to take home,” he said.
“Anna, tell this pervert to flip off, or I’m gonna bust his ass and then yours,” she heard from directly behind her. Randy’s bony hand was digging painfully into her upper arm. He tended to get a little rough when he’d been drinking and thought she was showing interest in somebody else.
“He’s right, mister. We’re sort of involved,” Anna shrugged. Though she liked a good fight over her as much as the next girl, she knew the old English guy was going to get hurt if Randy got started.
“So? You obviously desire me. And I want you. He has nothing to say about it,” the man from the bar said.
“Oh, that does it!” Randy reached around Anna, pushing her against the pool table roughly to get to the stranger.
The man from the bar looked at the other man’s hands on his sweater, bunching it up. The leather clad gentleman appeared ready to engage in fisticuffs. Closing his eyes briefly, the man from the bar emitted an electrical burst from his skin, sending the rough looking man into a convulsion and then to the floor.
As the bar crowd began muttering to themselves over the strange spectacle, the bar man returned his attentions to Anna.
At first she was concerned for Randy and was going to bend down to check on him, but the stranger’s eyes were on her again. She felt powerless to resist the dark, magnetic gaze. She realized with a start that she wanted the stranger as badly as he wanted her.
“Let’s go,” the stranger said, holding out a hand.
As Anna was led from the dark interior of the bar, she asked the man his name.
“People call me Ripper,” he said.
Spike paced back and forth across the expansive lobby of the Hyperion Hotel. Not that it was still a hotel; the place had been closed for years by the feel of it. But it was where he knew Angel Investigations hung out these days, though how they managed it when they left the place so open to anyone wanting to stroll in, he wasn’t sure. He hoped for Peaches’ sake that there was at least some sort of wards around the place or one of these days he’d get back to find all of the furniture knicked.
Spike looked over the sofa with a discriminating eye, before shaking his head and forgetting the idea. Maybe if he’d brought the old car up, but since he’d taken the train….
The place was empty currently and he was considering what he was going to do if his ‘family patriarch’ wasn’t back before sunrise. He didn’t fancy shacking up in one of the rooms here, but he didn’t have any real cash on him.
He sighed as he reached for his pack of smokes. He was down to six left and thought for a brief moment about saving them, but the allure of the tobacco was too great, so he lit up another one. Only five left, now.
Finally he heard the Vision-girl’s laughter and split seconds later felt Angel’s presence. He knew Angel had sensed him as well by the pensive way he’d entered the door, standing in front of the others protectively.
His tone of voice sounded somewhere between annoyance and curiosity.
“Angel,” Spike returned. He walked the few steps to the stairs and looked up at his Grand-sire. Pulling the stake out of his pocket first, he noted a black guy and the former Watcher tense, ready for action.
Before anyone could act rashly, Spike turned the stake, Mr. Pointy, sharp-side toward his own chest and handed it up to Angel. As Angel took it, Spike then produced the ring box.
Angel stared for a moment at the box before handing the stake to Cordelia, who was dressed in some…, interesting…, attire to say the least. She had a questioning frown on her face as she accepted the stake from Angel and watched him accept the ring box from Spike.
“I’ve seen this stake before,” she said, “Isn’t this Buffy’s?”
“Yep,” Spike replied, his eyes never leaving Angel. His Grand-sire’s hands trembled, but so slightly that only a fellow vampire would have noticed as he examined the box in his hand.
He looked at Spike with a question in his eyes.
“She wanted you to have this,” he said.
Angel opened the box and upon seeing the Claddagh ring took a step backward as if he’d been physically slapped, “Buffy?”
“I’m sorry, Angel. More sorry than you would ever believe.”
“Oh, my God,” Cordelia cried. She took a step over to put a comforting hand on Angel’s forearm.
Wes shook his head and muttered, “Angel… I’m sorry.”
“Cord… you should go change into something slightly more
Spike only now noted a skittish young woman hiding behind the black guy.
“I’ll throw together some sandwiches and bring ‘em up to you,” Gunn directed at the Fred woman and the ex-Watcher. “Angel, man, I don’t know what to say.”
“Yeah, Gunn…, yeah.” As the others walked away, Cordelia wiping tears from her face, Angel’s eyes burned into Spike. “If this is a trick….”
“No trick,” Spike said. “Though I have a feeling you’d feel better if it was.”
“Walk with me,” Angel turned and marched out into the balmy and very early
Spike followed him into the darkness and around the side of the hotel. They passed under an arch covered with vines and into a small park-like setting. Benches were set up around the perimeter of an old and cracked fountain, empty now except for bird excrement and dead insects. Angel more collapsed than sat on a bench and he took a seat next to him, so close they were nearly touching.
“Damn it,” Angel growled. He fingered the ring, but didn’t remove it from the velvet within the box. “How?”
“The Glory bint. She’d opened a portal… one of those worlds destroying kind. Buffy used her life to close it.”
“I should have stayed. I knew leaving Sunnydale was a mistake.”
“The PTBs wanted you here. That’s why the cheerleader gets those visions, ain’t it? You were needed here… besides, it was my failure that caused this,” Spike sighed.
“I had the chance to stop things before they went too far. Fucked it up… left the Bit to be bled and start the Hellgod’s ritual. I failed, Angel. I failed all of them.”
He looked over and met his former mentor’s and often enemy’s eyes. There were tears there, but no blame. It wasn’t what Spike wanted to see. He wanted to be blamed… he wanted Angel to hurt him… to punish him for his failure. He wanted to be broken and bled for what he’d caused to happen to the girl they’d both loved; though probably in different ways.
“Was she in… was there pain,” Angel whispered, “The truth.”
“I don’t know. I don’t think so, but I don’t know,” Spike sighed. “You can be angry at me. I’m angry at myself.”
“Did you try? To protect them, to help? Did you honestly try?”
“Yes. Tried, but gave that bumpy minion too much time to take me out. Went in with all my brass and attitude shooting off my mouth, and got taken out of the action before I could stop her. Stupid!”
“You were never good at quiet,” Angel pointed out. “You like to let everyone know you’re coming to kick some.”
“I’ve learned a bitter lesson.”
“Why you? Why are you the one here?”
“She asked. Before the battle, she said she needed me to do this. I agreed, of course. May not have been in love with her like I thought, but I’d do anything she needed.”
“You thought you were in love with her?! When did this happen?!” Angel had stood up and now glared down at Spike.
“Relax. It didn’t amount to anything, anyway. It remained you… all she ever saw was you.”
“If you touched her…,” Angel threatened, grabbing Spike by his shirt front and hauling him up from the bench.
“Like I could have if she didn’t want me to? Besides, I told you, I only thought I loved her. Now let go of me, you ponce, or we’re goin’ to have a go ‘round and I promised Xan I wasn’t coming here to fight.”
“Xander… what does he have to do with anything?”
“It’s been a complex few months.”
“I feel like I’m coming in on the third reel of the movie,” Angel said, letting Spike go with a sigh. “You think you’re in love with Buffy, you fight on her side, you try to keep Dawn safe and now you’re making promises to Xander about not starting trouble? What the hell is happening to you, Spike? Is that chip causing a mental breakdown?”
“What? You think you need a soul to change, old man? Well, maybe the chip is acting as one for me. All I know is I’ve found myself taking care of the Summers’ women… or trying to… I guess I haven’t done a bang up job of it.”
“Spike… you tried,” Angel sighed again. “I don’t understand why or how, but if they trusted you; if she trusted you with her mother and sister then I have to believe she knew what she was doing.”
“She was a remarkable woman. You knew her, far better than I ever did. Is it really surprising that she could tame a viper like me? That she could inspire loyalty, even in somebody like me?”
“She was remarkable. How are the rest doing? And when did this happen?”
“Three days, now. And they’re a wreck, what do you think? But we’re trying; we’re all trying to do right by her memory… keep going, keep fighting. Dawnie… she’s my purpose in life now, mate,” Spike said. “I swore she’d stay safe from now on.”
“William the Bloody as nanny,” Angel asked with the hint of a smile.
“Yeah, it’s ridiculous. But that’s the way of it. Her and Xan… I don’t know how I’d cope if they’d joined Buffy that night,” he sighed while turning away so that Angel wouldn’t see the tears in his eyes.
“We’re… trying,” Spike admitted to Angel’s surprised look. “Making a go of it. Together.”
Angel shook his head, “I sure didn’t see that coming. Not just the ‘you’ part, but I didn’t think Xan played on that side of the fence. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
“You’d know. Me and you… back in the day, once in a while.”
“You and Angelus. And I may not like Xander especially, but I hope you and he are going to be a lot healthier. Does he understand what he’s getting into, do you think? Do you?”
“Is that concern,” Spike sarcastically asked.
“Yeah, I guess it is,” Angel answered with all seriousness. “Mostly for him, of course. You’re a survivor… always have been. I’m not sure he’s equipped to be a consort.”
“No consort. We’re trying it the mortal way. I wouldn’t risk things going too far with him, assuming the chip would let that happen, anyway.”
“The more you speak, the less I’m sure that I’m talking to Spike.”
“You’re a poncey, wanker, broody, walking forehead with bad hair. Better?”
“Much,” Angel smiled for a moment before he again looked in pain. “I can’t believe… she was so full of life. I don’t think I believed that she’d end up like the others.”
“I know, mate. I am sorry, Grand-Sire. I wish I could have handled things better when she needed me to.”
Angel surprised himself by putting an arm around Spike’s shoulders and Spike shocked himself by leaning into Angel’s embrace. Together they looked up at the smoggy night and listened to the sounds of traffic from out on the streets of the city, both of them so full of regret that it was nearly crushing. Both of them lost in memories of the bravest woman they each thought they’d ever know.
“I need to get drunk. Wes has scotch tucked away in a desk,” Angel said suddenly.
End Chapter 4