Prologue to Life/I Know You by Slaymesoftly

ReviewsRating: NC-17

Summary: A response to a challenge at the Bloodshedverse where Buffy is returned to her season II body with all her post Season VII memories. She is there due to a spell Willow performs to try to help Buffy get over mourning for Spike.

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Chapter 20

After months of haunting the cemeteries, staking fledgling vamps as soon as they emerged, Buffy had pretty much had it with the Anointed One’s attempts to rebuild his army of minions and she announced that she was going to “settle his annoying hash” once and for all.

“I think that’s certainly wise, Buffy, but I do hope you will take Angel with you when you go in. In fact, it might be a good idea if we all went. We don’t really know how many minions may have managed to get back to him in the last few months.”

Buffy frowned at his suggestion that Angel accompany her. She had tried to establish some sort of relationship with the soulled vamp that didn’t involve any romantic activities, but she knew he was still hoping for more. She rarely asked him to patrol with her, but couldn’t bring herself to reject him when he “accidentally” showed up as he did more and more frequently.

She really would have preferred to take on the Annoying One (Spike sure got that nickname right, she thought to herself) alone, but to avoid hurt feelings she agreed to take Angel with her and to let Giles and the Scoobies who wanted to be there provide backup. Taking Angel with them meant they had to wait until sunset to approach the lair, even though she would have preferred to hit them while they were asleep.

Angel had moved from his apartment near the Bronze into the old mansion that Angelus had lived in during her time line, and they agreed to meet there before approaching the vamp lair. The Slayer had to stifle a shiver as she approached the familiar building and had flashes of memory of all the things that had taken place there.

Angel watched her with interest as she walked around, gently touching familiar things, frowning at some places, smiling slightly to herself at others. When she stood in the big room leading to the garden, she closed her eyes in pain briefly and he moved toward her without thinking.

“Buffy? What is it? Is something wrong?” He looked at her with genuine concern, wanting to take her in his arms, but knowing the new Buffy wouldn’t necessarily welcome his embrace the way “his” Buffy did.

“Huh? Oh, no, I’m fine, Angel. Just reliving some memories. No biggie.”

“Anything you’d care to share? I miss the way you used to tell me everything.”

She shook her head and gave him a sad smile. “Trust me, you don’t want to know.”

He almost growled with frustration, but swallowed it and nodded his head in agreement.

“All right, Buffy. I don’t want to push you. You’ll tell me when you’re ready, I guess.”

He completely missed her look of surprised indignation as he turned toward the door and the arriving Scoobies.

(What the hell? Has he not listened to me at all? He really doesn’t get that “no” means “no”. I wonder how come I never noticed that before?)

She shrugged off his assumption that he could have pushed her into it if he tried and turned to greet her friends.

To Buffy’s surprise, the whole crowd showed up, eager for some slaying action, and she realized with a guilty start that she hadn’t been involving her friends or watcher the way she had before.

(Maybe I should be letting them help more. If and when I really need them, they won’t have the experience they need to stay alive.)

Her face broke out in a genuine smile as she greeted her friends and admitted that she was glad to see them ready to come out and do battle with the forces of evil.

“Oh, yeah, we’re all about the battling forces of evil,” Xander enthused, as he glared at the brooding vampire leaning against the wall. “Can we start with Deadboy, here?”

Angel’s eyes flashed yellow for just a second as he heard the hated nickname, but he controlled the demon before Buffy noticed and contented himself with glaring back at the youthful annoyance.

“Xander…” Buffy’s warning made Angel smile and he moved closer to the blond slayer as much to aggravate the boy as to be close to her warmth. He breathed in her scent, enjoying the closeness which she seemed less inclined to reject just now than she did when they were alone.

Buffy smiled up at Angel apologetically and he smiled back and nodded to show her he was more than willing to tolerate her friends as long as she was letting him be a part of her life. As they gathered up weapons and talked about the plan, he went out of his way to include everyone in the conversations, even Cordelia who had shown up with Xander to Buffy and Willow’s astonishment.

“What?” she said when they looked at her in shock. “I can be helpful. And I didn’t have anything more interesting to do tonight, anyway. It’s not like you three have the market cornered on being heroes, you know.”

To break the crashing silence that greeted the tall brunette’s remarks, Oz offered quietly, “I just thought Willow might want some support. I can drive the van and we’ll only have to take one vehicle.”

“Thank you, Oz,” Buffy said with a smile. She had forgotten how helpful and full of common sense the werewolf was, and she was enjoying his company even more than she had the first time around. Her heart ached for Willow and the pain she knew was probably coming, but to see how her friend was coming out of her shy shell now that she had a devoted boy friend made up for it.

They agreed that Angel and Buffy would go into the lair themselves and check out the numbers. Angel was going to pretend to be Angelus, and have Buffy over his shoulder. He would get as close to the Anointed One as possible before setting her down. With luck, they would be able to stake most of the minions before any of them caught on that Angel was not on their side.

Giles would be outside with the rest of the Scoobies – all armed with crossbows and ready to dust any vamps fleeing the lair. Oz would also be using his enhanced senses to keep track of the fighting and let them know if Buffy and Angel needed assistance.

When she was sure everyone was as prepared as possible, Buffy led them to Oz’s van and the beginning of the end for the Master’s chosen successor. With Willow in the front with Oz, Giles, Buffy, Angel, Xander and Cordelia were crowded into the rear. To keep the peace, Buffy deliberately placed herself between Angel and Xander, trying to ignore the flash of hopefulness on the vampire’s face when she sat down next to him. She knew he was deliberately not moving over so that their hips and shoulders would be touching, but she didn’t pull away, letting herself enjoy briefly the physical contact that she was missing in her life at this time.

While she had no intention of sleeping with the older vampire and thereby releasing Angelus again, she couldn’t deny the affection she still felt for him and it felt good to lean against his large body. She was sure that she had finally made him understand that there was not going to be anything romantic between them any more and once he knew what caused his soullessness in her time, he’d agreed completely. Or seemed to.

They drove to within a block of the old warehouse where what was left of the Anointed One’s minions were living. Angel and Buffy moved silently toward the building while Giles positioned everyone else around where they could see the exits without being seen. At a nod from him, Angel smiled at Buffy and asked, “Ready?”

She nodded, grumbling the whole time about how she hated to appear weak and beaten, as he scooped her up effortlessly and draped her over his shoulder. A position which put her plump little sixteen-year-old ass right beside his face. As much as he knew he shouldn’t think about her in a way that could cost him his soul again, he found it very hard to concentrate while the center of her sex was so close to his nose.

He could hear her heart rate accelerate as they approached the room in which the Anointed One could be heard berating his minions for their lack of initiative and couldn’t help wondering what it would be like to know that he was once again the cause of that excitement. He shrugged off the memory of the brief seconds he’d been on top of her as Angelus and how good it had felt to press his erection in between her strong thighs. Telling himself to pay attention, he pushed away thoughts of sex with Buffy and concentrated on convincing the suspicious vampires glaring at him from across the room that he was once again Angelus.

Which wasn’t all that difficult with his demon being so excited by close proximity to the slayer’s ass. He sneered at the fledgling vampires gathered around the child-like “master” of the lair and snarled, “Got an armful of Slayer here. Anyone interested in a taste?”

Before they could break ranks and run to him, the small leader held up his hand and said suspiciously, “You first.”

“Shit,” he heard Buffy hiss as she tensed her muscles, preparing to drop off his shoulder. He quieted her with a slight squeeze to her thigh and shifted her weight so that she would be dropping straight down onto her feet when he let go. “Trust me,” he whispered into her ear as he let her slide down his body and grabbed her hair, tilting her head to expose her throat.

As soon as his fangs approached her neck, she felt Spike’s now-invisible marks tingle and she shoved Angel away with a frightened, “No!”

Surprise, shock, and finally anger flared across the vampire’s face as he reeled back. The other vamps, not realizing why he was so angry, moved toward the Slayer at a gesture from their leader. Although she had shoved the large vampire away fairly vigorously, they assumed she was weakened by whatever he’d done to capture her. Their lack of concern and caution was just what Buffy needed and she had dusted three of them before they could grasp that she was just as strong as ever.

The rest of the minions retreated slightly and peered at the small blond through the dust of their companions. Buffy had shoved her stake back into the waistband of her pants and now held a long wooden pole with which she was attacking the remaining minions. She appeared to have the situation under control, so Angel remained quiet and watched the fight, ready to step in if necessary, but having learned from cruel experience that this Buffy neither needed nor wanted to be saved by him.

He saw the dawning comprehension grow on the small boy’s face as the leader watched his minions being decimated by the tiny Slayer that Angel had brought into their lair and his face twisted in anger.

“You! You are of the Master’s line! You should be bowing before me, and instead you bring this…this…thing! into my home.”

Angel moved toward the small boy and grabbed him by the neck, lifting him up so that they were eye to eye.

“I don’t bow to anybody,” he said coldly. “Least of all children who think too highly of themselves.”

Buffy had finished dusting all but two of the minions that had bolted out the doors. She trusted that the waiting Scoobies would take care of them and turned to approach Angel. She looked at him curiously as he dangled the angry, evil child in the air.

“Angel, why are you playing with him? I had no idea you were so fond of children.”

He let his face slid back into it’s human features as he shook the little vampire and answered, “Well, you know men and toys. Sometimes we just can’t resist…”

The small would-be master was in complete game face and hung from Angel’s large hand snarling and snapping and screaming threats. The two warriors for good looked at each other and shrugged.

“You said in your time Spike killed him? Do you know how he did it?”

“Not exactly, but I’m pretty sure it had something to do with putting him in the sun.”

Angel glanced around the lair and spotted the cage in which the vampires obviously held their victims until they were ready to eat them. He looked at the chain and pulley that could carry the cage all the way up to the open roof and nodded his head.

“I see Will’s gotten creative in his old age,” he murmured as he carried the protesting demon over to the cage. “But the sun isn’t out now and we can’t take the chance he’ll escape before it comes up. Sorry, boyo,” he said as he twisted the child’s head and snapped his neck, “ Guess it’s not going to be as fast for you this time – but then, I’m not as impatient as Spike is…”

He threw the now paralyzed small demon into the cage and began pulling it up to where the first rays of the sun would hit it and turn the little master into a pile of ash. He missed the small frown that crossed Buffy’s face at his casual cruelty, but he didn’t miss the fact that she reached into the rising cage and put her stake through the small demon’s heart.

Without comment, she began looking around the large room, searching for any minions she might have overlooked, or any weapons they could use. When she saw the partially put together body parts and recognized them, she gasped.

“What is it?” She heard her Watcher’s voice as he cautiously entered the room to see how it was going.

“It’s the Judge. They were trying to put him together.”

When she got puzzled looks from both Watcher and vampire, she sighed and said, “I’ll explain it when we get back. Right now, all I want to do is take him apart and destroy the pieces.”

She took an axe she found lying nearby and began to hack the death-dealing machine apart. She didn’t waste time trying to destroy the pieces, knowing the man-made axe wouldn’t have any effect on them, but she did manage to turn the partially completely being into many small body parts. Signaling the rest of the Scoobies to pick up the pieces, she led them out of the building and into the waiting van.

After she explained to Giles and the Scoobies the danger presented by an intact Judge, the watcher determined to send the head to the Council for safekeeping. At Buffy’s disbelieving look, he explained that, regardless of her feelings toward the Council and their treatment of Slayers, they were the most qualified to keep something like that safe and away from evil forces that might try to use it.

“If you don’t count the Council as an evil force, I guess that’s right,” she grumbled, but agreed to let him have the head. Privately, she vowed to keep at least one major piece herself and hide it somewhere only she knew about. As much as she trusted Giles, she could not bring herself to trust the Council to keep such a potentially dangerous being safe from anyone who wanted to use it to their own ends.

(Especially since Xander doesn’t have his Halloween military experience to fall back on this time) she thought with a mental grin.

With Angel promising to take the torso out to sea and drop it into the deepest part of the ocean, and Oz taking a leg with him on his next road trip to leave in an unknown place, Buffy felt comfortable leaving the arms hidden in Sunnydale. The extra leg, she took with her to dispose of later. By moonlight, she went into a cemetery and dug into an old grave, burying the extra parts as deep as she could get them.

She allowed Xander, who was feeling left out and useless, to come with her to help dig and to watch for vampires while Buffy worked. They were still not completely comfortable with each other, as the boy refused to give up his idea that both Angel and Spike should have been dusted when she had the chance; and Buffy’s older eyes allowed her to see his stubborn narrow mindedness for what it was. It didn’t take a psychology degree to realize that in her time, her friend had taken his unrequited love for her and turned into an unhealthy distrust of the men in her life.

She was able to understand that he hadn’t been threatened by Riley because he knew, subconsciously, just as Riley himself had, that she didn’t really love the big commando and therefore he was no threat to Xander’s place in her affections.

(At least this time, I know better than to pretend my life is ever going to be normal. Should be able to save Riley and myself a lot of grief.)

When she thought about how she had treated Spike in her time, based, she had to admit, in large part because she worried about Xander’s reaction much more than anyone else’s, she cringed and vowed she would not let his obvious jealousy interfere this time.

(Assuming there IS a this time) she thought with a sigh. (Where are you, Spike? Are you thinking about me? Has Dru started cheating on you yet?)

She absently rubbed her fingers over the invisible scars on her neck where his teeth had just scraped her skin and wondered if the partial claim he’d initiated was exerting any pull on him. The reminder that she was his (not that I need one!) brought on when Angel’s fangs got near her throat had surprised her. Spike had been so sure the claim would fade as soon as he was gone. She hoped that he was feeling some residual effects from it too.

*************

The vampire in question was having a good time, dancing the tango with a curvaceous and fiery brunette that he had already decided would make an excellent vampire. He was just biding his time, enjoying the music and the heat from her body until he was hungry enough to take her somewhere private for dinner. Dru was sitting quietly at a table with some tourists she’d met and smiling indulgently at him while he danced.

As much as she enjoyed twirling around with her pixies under the stars, the ability to dance to actual music, especially the pounding Latin rhythms found in their chosen country, completely escaped her stodgy English sensibilities. But she didn’t object to watching Spike dance with human women; in fact she enjoyed watching his graceful movements and seeing how all the unsuspecting humans in the bar envied the woman he’d chosen for his partner this night.

She was actually looking forward to his turning the lush beauty he was practically making love to on the dance floor. Dru also thought the woman would make a good vampire, and was eager to teach her about sire’s and grandsire’s rights and privileges. She giggled as she pictured herself sinking her fangs into the newly made vampire’s full breasts and rounded belly. This one looked like she would be a lot of fun – and she bore no resemblance to the tiny blond Slayer that still haunted her William’s dreams.

Thinking about the Slayer ruined her good mood, and she abruptly got up and grabbed one of the men by the hand saying coyly, “I want to go talk to the stars. Please come with me. I need a big strong man like you to make me feel safe.”

Beaming with pride, and eyes gleaming with lust, the unsuspecting man waved to his friends and followed the strange, but exotic woman out of the club to his immediate and bloody death. Without her usual babbling, the angry vampire grabbed the still oblivious man and drained him within seconds, dropping the body to the dirty ground and stepping over him to wander off looking for a demon bar.

Inside, Spike had noticed Dru’s disappearance, but didn’t worry about it. The last few months had gone very well, and he was sure they had put the ugliness that was Sunnydale behind them. And if he occasionally still thought about silky blond hair falling over his face, and a warm mouth bringing him to ecstasy, he told himself it was only natural to remember a sexual encounter with a Slayer. After all, it certainly wasn’t something the average vampire was ever likely to experience. To his reputation for killing two slayers, he could now add that he was the only vampire to have shagged one.

(At least I could add it, if I didn’t know Dru would get hysterical about it. Not that she doesn’t know somethin’ happened, but I don’t think she knows what I did with the Slayer. Was too busy shagging Angelus to worry about what I was up to, wasn’t she?)

He carefully ignored the fact that even if Dru would have been fine with it, there was no way he would have been bragging about his night with Buffy as though she was some slut off the street. His inner William was too aware that he’d been gifted with something precious, something given out of love, and he would never allow the demon to sully it.

He pulled the woman’s willing body into his, rubbing his erection against her and reveling in the warmth. It did no good to close his eyes and try to pretend she was Buffy – to a vampire, scent and taste were at least as important as vision and there was no way he would mistake this woman’s essence for the Slayer’s unique taste and smell. But he could enjoy the warmth of her body and the sound of the blood rushing through her veins.

He’d just decided it was time to take his evening’s meal choice outside and add her to the ranks of the undead, when a jolt went through his body and his concealed fangs suddenly itched. It was gone as quickly as it came, but he couldn’t deny what had happened.

(Bloody hell! That claim’s still there! And something jus’ happened to the Slayer to make it flare up. She’s alright, though. Got to be. If it’s strong enough to jolt me after all this time, I’d know if anythin’ happened to her. I’d have to be able to feel it. I’d have to.)

In spite of his assurances to himself, late the following afternoon while Drusilla dozed next to the exhausted new fledgling he’d brought home, Spike found himself holding a cell phone and dialing a number he swore he’d only written down for purposes of having more information about the Slayer. He stared at the phone as it began to ring, and had almost decided to put it down when he heard Joyce’s voice.

“Hello?”

“Uh…I mean…bloody hell! Is the Slayer there?”

“Spike? Is that you?”

“No! It’s not me –him! It’s just a phone call for the Slayer. Need to know if she’s…if anythin’s wrong.”

He could hear the smile in her mother’s voice as she said, “Buffy’s fine, Spike. I understand they removed a nest of vampires last night, but everything went well and she is OK. In fact, she’s out with her friends and Angel. I believe Willow’s boyfriend’s band is playing at the Bronze tonight and they’ve all gone to have a bite to eat before helping him set up.”

Relief at her mother’s reassurance fought with a gut-wrenching stab of jealousy at the idea of Buffy being out with Angel. When he didn’t say anything for several minutes, Joyce asked anxiously, “Spike? Spike, are you still there?”

“Yeah, ‘m here, Joyce. Just got sidetracked for a minute. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay. I’m glad you called. I just wish Buffy was here to talk to you. She’ll be sorry she missed your call.”

“I’d rather you didn’t tell her,” he said gruffly. “I don’t want to talk to her. Jus’ needed to know she was all right, that’s all.”

“She’s fine,” Joyce responded. “She’s looking forward to her birthday next week and trying to decide if she’s going to be seventeen or twenty-three.”

“What day next week?” he couldn’t stop himself from asking.

“Wednesday. I think we’ll all be here, at least early in the evening. I’m doing dinner and cake. So if you wanted to…”

“No! No, I won’t be callin’ again. I was jus’worried and…I shouldn’t have done this. ‘M sorry, Joyce. Don’t tell her about it. Let her go on and have a good time with her…friends.” He couldn’t keep the anger out of his voice as he thought about his grandsire being with her while she celebrated her birthday.

Joyce waited until he finished, then said softly, “All right, Spike, I won’t tell her you called if you don’t want me to.”

“Thank you, Joyce. ‘Preciate it.”

“You’re welcome,” she said. “And, Spike?”

“Yeah?”

“She’s not seeing him. They’re just friends this time around.”

“Didn’t ask,” he mumbled.

“I know you didn’t, but I thought you ought to know.”

He snorted and shook his head. “You’re quite a woman, Joyce. ‘S no wonder your daughter is one of the longest lived slayers in the world.” He heard the sounds of laughter from upstairs and knew that Drusilla and his newest minion were awake and looking for him. “I’ve got to go. Good bye, Joyce. Take care of yourself…and her.”

“Good bye, Spike.”

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