Died Thrice (One Up On You, Love)

Title Died Thrice (One Up On You, Love)
Author Brutti ma buoni
Pairing Spike/Buffy
Rating R, I suppose. Very weak R.
Words 1250
Setting AU post NFA
Prompt This is for Seasonal Spuffy’s free for all day and also inspired by this week’s prompts which are stills from James and Sarah’s other films. But I picked a different one, from The Air I Breathe 

She looks good. Hell, she looks amazing. A little prom queen, perhaps, but it’s important to put a glamorous human face on the Slayer movement. Or so they tell her. Because this is who Buffy is, nowadays. Or what. What she is.

She’s the symbol.

It’s five years since Sunnydale, and a million Slayers awoken was way, way too many to hide, it turns out. So they’re a force, now. Corrupt governments and oligarchs come wooing, seeking bodyguards or armies. So far, no dice, but someday, everyone knows there will be a breakout. Even a few rogue Slayers will give them a bad name, so PR is important. Superstrong women? You just know there’s a bunch of men somewhere waiting the chance to condemn them, the excuse to take them down.

Probably not even an evil mastermind.

Buffy kind of misses the evil mastermind days.

“Ten minutes, Ms Summers,” says the call at the door, the kid barely poking her head in before the door shuts behind her. Okay. Ten minutes of not-so-much before she goes on who-the-hell-cares. Buffy spins her lipstick up and down, idly playing, passing the time. She looks at herself in the mirror, trying to see what the camera will see. Draws in the lines for focus and frame. Stares into her own eyes. The image of Buffy. Is this really her life now?

The door opens again. Less than ten minutes, surely? Less than five, really. But maybe Letterman is speeding through the other guests. Whatever.

“Hello Buffy,” says the invisible man behind her. The voice, she remembers too well. Okay, so, insane now?

But she turns her head anyway.

Once away from treacherous reflection, he does appear to be real. He’s standing in the middle of her dressing room. Looming, if that’s not too strong a word for a guy not so very much taller than she is.

If Buffy is insane, it’s pretty thorough. He looks different. A little darker under the eyes, hair longer and curlier than she remembers for anything other than his screaming-in-the-basement days. Face thinner, though not gaunt. As though time has passed, and not time that was kind to him.

“Who are you?” She stands, pokes him (corporeal, good start). “Are you a demon? Some kind of glamour? Is this a joke?”

He steps back one step, hands warding. “No, love. It’s really me.”

He has no reflection. She already knows that. It’s a small piece of confirmation. But she can’t believe; too risky.

“Spike is dead. Very dead.”

He nods, “Died three times, now, still pretty. One up on you, now, unless you’ve been busier’n I heard?”

She ignores that. She hasn’t died in years. “How did you die? How are you back? How do I know you’re Spike?”

He checks his deaths off on his fingers, causing a flashback so intense she can’t breathe for a second (Out. For. A. Walk… Bitch.). So long ago, and so vivid. “Drusilla in a London back-alley, you and an amulet in the fires of my soul and the falling of the Hellmouth. In the breath of a dragon , at a place called Hyperion, on the ley line of Destiny in LA. And I’m back because I wore that clunky bit of jewellery to that final fight, and three months back a contractor found it in the remains and gave it a polish. Gave him a hell of a shock,” he adds, smiling wryly. “Dunno if it only works for fiery deaths, or what, but that thing brought me back all over again. Bit of a shock for me, too. Thought I was fixed up nicely in the fires of hell.”

He pauses. “And… I don’t know how to answer your last question. Because I am me, but proving it’s a bugger. I mean, how do I know you’re you?”

She blinks at him, for a second. She forgot, somewhere along the line of loss and mourning, that Spike’s a pain in the ass on a regular basis. (Something inside her is cheering. This is what she missed. Even though she can’t believe it, not yet, there’s a part of her that clicked with recognition. This is her Spike, or a very, very good copy.)

“Duh, I’m guessing you found me through the Council, and all my friends are still there-“ The ones that lived, obviously. “- And the world’s pretty damn sure I’m me.”

“Yeah, but look at you. All long hair and glossy mouth. When did you last beat someone up in an alley? You could be the Bot, for all I know. You could be a clone. You could be anyone. Except, you’re not. You’re Buffy Summers, Slayer, and I know that. Because I know you.”

She reaches out a hand and lays it on his bare wrist. He’s the right temperature, off-cold, air-warm, inhuman. No reflection. Can’t test for a soul, not here, not alone, and anyway, he was hers before the soul as well as after. He sounds right, he knows the facts.

He could be Spike.

“Strip,” she says.

He looks at her with shock, which is pleasing. She doesn’t – didn’t – often shock him.

“Not for sex, eeeuuuw,” she clarifies. “I have a call in, like, two minutes. Checking for Spike. Your distinguishing marks aren’t on any database I know of. So, show me.”

It’s not perfect, but she’s pretty sure only one evil demon has a detailed mental map of Spike’s scars and flaws, moles and puckers, the way she does. And it’s right. There are new scars (arms cut off, she remembers, and shudders), and old blemishes, well remembered. He’s thinner in the face and belly, fleshed out in the arms with some hard work somewhere along the line, probably more as he was the last days in Sunnydale, though she never saw him naked then. Everything (yes, everything, she checks, pretty certain no demonic representation would convincingly mimic the hang of his dick or the sway of his balls, loosely cupped) is right.

Which leaves her with two options: either someone who really wants to mess with Buffy’s head has access to Drusilla or to Spike’s corpse, and really has faked this whole thing to perfection or…

Right then, just at the moment she’s prepared to hope, the door pops open. “Uh,” says the kid, because this may be TV but possibly not every Letterman guest is found crouched before a naked man at her on-air cue time (actually, that sounds like something half the guests would enjoy, but…).

“You need me?” says Buffy. The kid can only nod. “Okay. You, stay here,” says Buffy, to Spike.

Because it is Spike. Nobody else would get the right look in his eyes at this exact and ridiculous moment, him naked, her on her knees, hands at his groin, and the kid, and the makeup, and the whole tragic mirror-moping he caught her at collapsing into something that breaks through the frozen Buffy-shell. She doesn’t have time to process it just now. Back to being a figurehead. But the bleakness that has grown on her of late is cracking. Spike’s alive. Something has changed, and it’s a good change.

He shouts after her, “Hey, Summers? I’ve been watching you lately, and you know what I think? I think it looks like your life sucks.”

“Yeah?” She shouts it back, too loud, too happy, too young for this mask, this role she has now. “Whatcha gonna do about that?”

His laugh follows her down the studio corridor.


Originally posted at https://seasonal-spuffy.dreamwidth.org/824227.html