Disclaimer: Joss is the boss.
Timeline: Season 9 (vague spoilers for upcoming issues)
Summary: What's in a name?
Notes: Big thanks to Scribesds
inviting me to write Buffy again and for her beta help.
They don't mention his name.
She doesn't either. It's too raw, too painful to even think about what happened between them. Was it a momentary madness? An urge stronger than anything in the world?
Or maybe it was a carefully designed and executed plan of Powers That Be? Maybe she and – and him -- were just pawns in their games?
Doesn't matter. What matters is that the world almost got destroyed because of them.
She doesn't say his name but she can't stop thinking about him. She can't order her brain to work properly. Stupid Buffy brain.
Others can't stop thinking about him too. Once she watches "Dances With the Stars" mildly amused to see Harmony hand in hand with Andy Dick who has a tidy adhesive bandage on his neck and tries to get the indecent pun about their activities out of her mind, when her stupid ears catch Harmony's words: "My former boss used to say -- if nothing we do matters then the only thing that matters is what we do. So I try to dance as wonderfully as I can and the rest doesn't matter..."
Harmony couldn't be speaking about -- about him, could she?
Since that day she watches religiously every show that features Harmony no matter how nonsensical and annoying they are. Yes, Harmony is a bimbo, and she dances awfully, and she is an insult to everyone who can really dance - so what? Spike watches her too. Sometimes Buffy wonders if he watches for the same reason. Harmony is his last link to... to that year she spent with... he spent in Los-Angeles.
They talk about it. About the time he was there. Because it's perfectly normal that she is interested how her former-mortal-enemy-turned-lover-turned-best-friend coped with life when he died and got resurrected... As absurd as it sounds, even more absurd is that they still don't say -- you know -- the name. Spike always says "he". It's Wesley, and Gunn, and Lorne, and that bint Harm, and Fred (who somehow happened to be a girl who turned into a blue Hellgod - don't ask) -- and him. Just him. Not even Peaches or Great Poof.
"So he says 'remember Saint-Petersburg?' Of course I do. We visited the city in 1895. When he wasn't in his bleeding ballet, we fought local demons, Medveputys... Killed the buggers with strings we kept rolled in our signet rings..."
She tries to imagine Spike and -- and him -- in old-fashioned suits, with long hair, maybe in massive fur hats... She listens and smiles.
And then the name is spoken aloud.
Well, not exactly the name.
She avoided looking at the map of San-Francisco Bay since... since she relocated there. Of course her reluctance to look at the maps had nothing to do with... with a certain name.
Then they have a situation with the rogue slayer Simone and look for her lair, Andrew looks at his stupid tracer and announces: "Angel Island!"
Willow told her once that names have immanent magic. Back then, Buffy reminded her of that Shakespeare's quote about a rose and they agreed to disagree. But now she knows that Willow was right. Names have magic, after all.
After Andrew's blunder everything is suddenly different. A spot of land in San-Francisco Bay becomes a special place. The next day she rents a motorboat, and explores the island - of course, because she has to be sure that Simone doesn't have stashes of weapons somewhere on the island. The place is mostly rocks, and bushes, and trees, and narrow twisty paths that lead nowhere.
She goes deep is the forest, lies on the grass and thinks of him -- of his stupid hair, and stupid attitude. Of his eyes, always full of quiet desperation, his adamant mouth, his strong arms, his utterly kissable chest...
She doesn't realise that she smells guilty until Spike declares that he leaves. He says he's going to look for the chards for the Seed of Wonder, and that maybe it will help to restore magic on Earth, and other important things. But he refuses to look her in the eye. She can't blame him, even if his departure means one hand of help less. First Willow, now Spike - one more friend leaves her.
Several weeks pass and then she accidentally finds out that Spike and Willow are in London. With him. With Angel.
It's Andrew again who blurts it out. He speaks his usual techno-babble Buffy doesn't even pretend to understand, and then suddenly adds: "You know, Willow wasn't impressed with the restored Big Ben, she says the place lacks even metaphorical magic. Spike begged her to forgive him for ruining the old Big Ben with his ship..."
At first she thinks she misheard. But Andrew shuts up in mid-sentence and looks embarrassed, so she knows that he really said what he said - what he wasn’t supposed to say.
Willow is in London. Spike is in London. And the last time she heard he - Angel - was in London too.
"Is Angel with them?"
There is panic in Andrew's eyes. "Um, Buffy, I have to go..."
He deflates and nods. "Don't get it wrong, Buffy. They - we - we didn't tell you because we didn't want to hurt you."
"You did, but that's beyond the point. What are they doing in London?"
He looks away. Buffy nods appreciatively. "So there is a plan, right?"
"Yes," Andrew whispers conspiratorially. "Willow thinks she found a way to bring magic back. Spike brought the chards of the Seed from the Hellmouth. Willow and Angel travelled to another dimension and found artefacts necessary for the healing spell that could work on the Seed. Right now they prepare the spell. That is, Willow prepares the spell. Angel and Spike guard her and the artefacts."
She grins, despite herself.
"They haven't killed each other yet?"
"Only because they don't have time for each other," Andrew giggles nervously. "Many powerful demons are after their mojos - I mean their artefacts, - so Angel and Spike keep watch in turn..."
“I’m going there to help them!”
Twenty-four hours later she steps off the boarding ramp in Heathrow and immediately sees them - Angel and Spike - who took advantage of the overcast sky to meet her at the airport lounge. Her heart beats so loudly she can hear her blood rushing in her ears.
She stops one step away from Angel
and looks away. This is definitely awkward.
"Slayer, meet Mr. Island," Spike says finally. "Mr. Island, meet Buffy."
Angel blinks. "What?"
"You know, Peaches, she went to Angel's island to delve into you... I mean, into it," Spike says, ducking from Buffy's punch. (Spike is so dead. Like, dead-dead. Seriously. )
"And you, Slayer, must know that he only thinks about you. Last night we killed a Groxlar demon, and he spent the rest of the night reminiscing how you two slayed a similar specimen back in Sunnydale. You should have seen his eyes." (Okay, Spike can stay undead for a while).
Spike smirks. "Guys, the D-day is near. Maybe we'll make it. Maybe we won't. Maybe it's the last days of our lives. Let's make them the best."
He turns on his heels, saunters away, his coat billowing and disappears in the crowd. Her heart sinks. If Spike, of all people, tells them to seize the day, then the apocalypse may be really close.
Or maybe there is something she doesn't know. Because Angel looks strangely serene and peaceful. Alienated from this world. Like he has already said good-bye to it.
"Tell me," she says.
He shakes his head. "You shouldn't be coming."
"Tell me," she repeats. "Just once treat me like an adult." She knows she's unfair to him, but she can't stop. "Maybe this is your only chance to take me seriously."
"To restore the Seed, Willow needs certain ingredients. One of them is the blood of Twilight. My blood. To seal the spell and open magic portals."
It's so unfair that, for a moment, she can't breathe.
"The spell is very dangerous. If it's successful, then you'll be safe. If it's not... that's why I wanted you to stay away from... from our plan."
"Life is unfair."
So that's it. The last ugly sneer of the fortune. Once, very long ago, she killed him because his blood could seal a portal. Now he's going to kill himself to open portals.
But they have today and maybe a few tomorrows, and all they can do is to live them out. So they kiss, they walk to his place, they talk, they kiss again, they have hungry, desperate sex, and then they just lie there, sated and spent, and she quotes the passage she read in a book once and couldn't get it out of her mind:
"No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main."
He hugs her tight and she smiles through her tears.