Post-The Girl In Question (This replaces Power Play and Not Fade Away-- that is, those events happen a little differently.) R Joss owns 'em, I just love 'em up when he's too mean to them
I sit on the flagstones until the chill seeps in through my slacks. Then I go and stash the book in the car. And I slam the door and walk through the graveyard gates to Spike's crypt. I fling open the door, just like old times, and he looks up, startled, from his book.
He smiles and stands up, but he stays well clear of the shaft of sunlight I let in. I don't move, and he can't come to me. It only takes a moment for him to figure out that I'm mad.
But of course he can't ask me why. He just sits down again, sets his book on the marble pedestal that serves as an end table, and waits. He doesn't have to wait long. I'm that mad. "You better have a good explanation, that's all I can say!"
He regards me with a long-suffering expression. Okay. I know he can't explain. I know he can't even say my name. I even know that probably whatever happened isn't his fault. But-- but I'm so mad.
I flip open my cell phone and am about to stab some keys when I realize I don't know the number. So I have to call LA information, and I let the operator dial through to Anne's shelter. As soon as I get Charles Gunn on the phone, I say, "Do you have a cell phone with a camera?"
He's surprised, confused. But he answers yes, and gives me the number, and I disconnect and call that phone. When Gunn answers, I turn the phone towards Spike and push the camera button.
As soon as he realizes what's going on, he's out of his chair. But he can't leave, and I guess he has too much dignity to cower in the corner. So he just turns his face away. I aim the camera right at him, and through the speaker I hear Gunn's faint, tinny voice. "Spike? Spike?"
I put the phone back to my ear. "Yeah. That's Spike. Now I have some questions for you."
"He's there with you." Gunn's voice still sounds faint, even right up against my ear.
"He's here. Now you said you saw him dusted."
Gunn is quiet for a moment, then says, "Yeah. I saw. But... what? Was it a hallucination? Is that what you're telling me?"
"I don't know. All I know is he showed up here in Cleveland."
"Let me talk to him." Gunn's voice is urgent now. Thick with some emotion. Tears, maybe? "Let me talk to him. I want to-- to talk to him."
"Just a minute. You have to answer my questions first."
"Is he okay? Just tell me he's okay."
I don't know if he's okay or not. He's with me. He's okay. "He's okay. More or less. So you didn't know he was back from the dead?"
"No. You know I didn't. We just talked last week. I thought then-- it must have been a hallucination. Illyria must have--"
Spike drops back down into his chair. He won't look at me. That's all right. I glare at him, and I hope he feels the heat.
"So how did he get here?"
"How do I know?" Gunn says. "Maybe he hopped a plane. Maybe he drove."
I contemplate a voiceless Spike getting across the country by himself. Not likely. "Maybe someone there helped him."
"I don't think so. We all thought he was dead."
"He's got a credit card. Lots of money. How did that happen?"
"Oh, that." Gunn sounds relieved to find a question he can answer. "Harmony did that. She embezzled all this money from W&H before she left. And she gave some to me, and some to Spike. He's pretty clueless about all that, so she set him up-- checking account, money market account, credit card."
"Yeah. It was a week or so before the final battle, you know. I got mad at her, but Spike thought it was pretty cool. He said that it couldn't be that evil, to steal from the evil. So I guess he probably used that stash. And the credit card."
I shoot Spike a look, but he's wearing his I'm-a-poor-abuse-victim expression. Okay, I don't know that I'd expect him to righteously refuse the loot, but still. And I'm not abusing him! I'm trying to help him!
"Then tell me this. When-- when you saw him last, was he okay? I mean, before he was ... dusted."
Gunn takes his time before he answers. "Yeah. He was, you know. His normal self."
"No-- no, uh, impairments?" I glance over at Spike, and he's turned his face away again. I'm hurting him. Humiliating him. He doesn't want Gunn to know.
"Well, he was pretty hungover. But that's all. Why?"
I sigh. Spike might never forgive me. But he's the one who left me the message in the flowers. Some part of him wants me to know. "Because he can't talk. He's mute. And he can't write either." He came back wrong. That's what I want to say. But I don't say that. I just repeat, "He can't talk anymore."
Gunn draws in his breath. Then he whispers, "Let me talk to him."
I walk over and try to hand the phone to Spike. He won't take it. In fact, he tries to get up and move away, but I shove him down and keep him down with a hand on his-- well, look. It works, right? He stays where he is. I sit on the arm of his chair and put the phone against his ear and say loudly, "Go ahead, Gunn. He's listening."
I'm listening too. And as I hear Gunn's faint voice, I watch Spike's face, only a few inches from mine. He is as tight as a fist, his mouth tense, his eyes turned away from me. "Blondie Ghost!" Gunn says. I guess he's like Spike-- he gives nicknames. Maybe that's one reason they're friends. "Hey. It's-- it's good to see you. Alive. Undead. Whatever. It's just-- just good to see you, buddy."
Spike's mouth starts to tremble. I move a little closer, press my lips against his throat.
"Good to see you-- look. Got to tell you. Wes-- Wes didn't make it out. He was brave, all that. Stopped Vail. But he didn't make it. And Illyria, well, she couldn't take it. So she went back to that well. The one she came from. She said she didn't like this world. Can't blame her. Wes and you gone-- I don't like this world much either."
I feel the harsh breath go through his throat. I kiss him again, right there. Try to tell him I care, through my kiss.
"It's been.... hard. You know? Thought I'd lost you too. But here you are."
Spike swallows. I stay right there, my cheek against his. Gunn is going on, "Back again. No one can keep you down, huh? That's my man. And there you are, with your slayer girl. Landed in clover, didn't you?"
With a convulsive movement, Spike pushes the phone away, and me with it. Too much. Too much. I understand. I let him get up, and I say into the phone, "Thanks, Gunn. He's ... he's a little overcome now, but I know he appreciates it. Hearing your voice."
"Yeah, well, I mean it. Glad he's back. Glad he found you."
I take a deep breath. Then I ask the question that I'm afraid will break my heart. "What about Angel?"
Gunn doesn't reply right away. Then, real carefully, he says, "Angel's okay. He made it through."
I already know that. And Gunn knows that's not what I was asking. "I mean, what does he have to do with this?"
Spike's standing near the door, his hand on the knob, as if he intends to rip it open and walk out into the sun. I cross the room and grab hold of his belt, and I say to Gunn, "I don't know with what. I just know that Spike's gone to some trouble to let me know that Angel did something wrong. Something treacherous. But he can't tell me what. And – and since Angel ended up back on top, and you said you're not with him anymore, I'm thinking that maybe, maybe he's gone...." I force the words out. "Bad."
Spike yanks away from me, but doesn't try to open the door. Instead he goes to his little refrigerator and rummages around in it. I ask, "Did Angel go over to the other side? Is he Angelus again? Or still Angel, but ... but doing evil?"
Gunn mutters something I don't understand. Then, more clearly, he says, "Look. Angel's, well, he's doing an inside job. I think. He's acting like he is working with them. I think there must have been some peace treaty once he... once he won. But he's still--" A pause. "He's still on this side. I'm pretty sure. He-- we-- we sacrificed a lot. Lost a lot. And he's the only one I guess still carrying on the fight against the senior partners. Only... only he's doing it from the inside. Pretending he's with them."
"Pretty sure." Gunn sighs. "Look, I think Spike might have been--"
Suddenly Spike is at my side. He grabs the phone out of my hand, and points it at himself, and snaps a picture. His face is tight again, tight with refusal, and I hear Gunn saying, "Okay. Okay, Spike. I get it."
And when I finally get the phone back, he says, "You need to talk to Angel himself. Face to face. He can--"
But whatever he's going to say is cut off when Spike yanks the phone away from me and throws it against the stone wall of the crypt. It smashes into a hundred little silver pieces. I grab his arm and turn him to face me. "Oh, that was really mature, Spike! That phone cost $70! And Gunn's going to think I hung up on him!"
He looks down on me, his face so angry, so anguished, that I can't stay mad. I give it a try, though. I growl, "I'm going to find out what this is about. And then we're going to know what we have to do to help you." He tries to turn away, but I've got him too tight. "I'm going to help you, because I love you. Don't you ever forget that."
And he gives up. He settles against me, puts his arms around me, and kisses my hair. I think maybe he's realizing that he's mine, and he knows I take care of mine. So I'm going to take care of him too.