Title: Breaking the Habit
Era/season/setting: Season 8 Buffy Comics/Post Angel After the Fall
Pairing: Spike/Original Female Character; Buffy/Satsu; Eventually Buffy/Spike
A/N: This is my first attempt at a Buffyverse fic that is longer than a drabble in about a decade. I decided to try my hand at writing Spuffy fic again for seasonal_spuffy because I missed the characters and the fandom. “Breaking the Habit” is a story that was conceived about eleven years ago. Unfortunately, I lost every word written because back then I did not properly save or backup anything I wrote. It bummed me out that I lost hours of work, and I’ve been thinking a lot about that story since returning to the fandom. I decided to “reboot” the story and incorporated this round’s “Dark Carnival” theme in the first chapter. I’m no spring chicken, so my memory isn’t the best. I remember vaguely what the story was about, but it’s been over a decade. So, everything written is brand new. Additionally, the story is an AU of season 8 and admittedly, I will be playing fast and loose with the timelines between Buffy seasons 8-9 and Angel season 6.
I’d like to also thank my beta for this chapter, cornerofmadness. You are awesome! Any mistakes are all mine.
Disclamimer: The characters are not mine.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
“In every generation, there is a chosen one. She
alone will stand against the vampires the demons and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer.”
The air was thick and heavy with rain. Buffy’s hair clung to the back of her neck as she and her team searched the crowded streets of Rio for their target. It was only March, but it felt like the middle of summer during a heat wave. Exhausted and hungry, they spent all day traveling with little food and rest. Buffy knew she pushed hard, but the girls were strong. They had proven their durability time and time again. As soon as they found their target, she promised to pack it up for the night.
“Keep your eyes open and keep it tight,” she commanded over the sound of festive music.
Buffy pushed through a group of Samba dancers as they made their way to the heart of the city. She grimaced when a cloud of feathers from a nearby dancer brushed her face, blocking her few. Buffy hurriedly swatted the colorful plumes away from her nose and lips. When they arrived in Brazil two days ago, she had no idea they would be touching down during one of the biggest celebrations of the year. She never even heard of Carnival until, Sonya, a Slayer from Barbados explained it to her. Buffy thought it looked like a great time. If she wasn’t in Rio on business, she might have enjoyed watching the parade of dancers and musicians as they marched down the street in colorful costumes. Buffy ignored the gnawing in her stomach as they passed a dozen food trucks filled with delicious smells. When was the last time I ate? She thought to herself. Yesterday morning. I had a grape; Buffy recalled her hasty breakfast from the day before. She’d been interrupted when Andrew’s intel put the rogue Slayer they’d been trying to locate in South America.
Cassia Romero. The newly minted Slayer had been called when Buffy shared her power with the rest of the potentials. Buffy, along with Andrew, Willow, Xander, and Kennedy was working on rounding the Slayers up so they could be trained. After the Hellmouth closed, Buffy stationed bases around the world where other “veterans” helped with training new, unpolished Slayers. Many of the girls they found had no idea what they were or why they were called. Some were eager to join a sisterhood of women who shared their power, while others ran away from it. There were also a few who used their abilities to terrorize both supernatural creatures and humans. Cassia was one of them. So far, the rogue Slayer had only been involved in petty crimes. But Buffy was afraid that if the wrong influence got to her first, she would only become worse. She thought about one of those bad influences, Simone Doffler. The gun-toting Slayer was currently in parts unknown building her army of extremists. Buffy’s face was grim as she recalled one of their last encounters with each other.
“You alright, Buff?”
Buffy turned toward the sound of Satsu’s voice. Ever since they started sleeping together, Satsu had become Buffy’s shadow. Not that Buffy minded, she was just afraid Satsu was looking for more than she had to give. We need to talk. Buffy added that to her long list of “to-do’s.” Satsu flashed her a concerned smile as she matched her stride.
“Five by five,” Buffy said borrowing Faith’s catchphrase.
“You know, I still don’t know what that means,” Satsu joked. “Any word from Faith lately?”
Buffy shook her head. “Not in the last few months. But I’m sure she’s fine. It’s Cassia that I’m more worried about.”
“Yeah. Right. Of course. We’ll find her, Buffy.” Satsu gave Buffy’s shoulder a light squeeze. “Let’s see, if I were a deranged, rogue Slayer, where would I be?” she murmured.
When they arrived in the city, Buffy tried some of the sketchier parts of town first. They spent the afternoon searching through dive bars and ratty motels. One of the girls cautioned them against trying the favelas, warning that the area was strictly off limits to outsiders. If I was a deranged, rogue Slayer that’s where I would hide, she thought to herself. Buffy glanced toward the hills were the makeshift homes dotted the skyline. She needed to find a way to get passed the moradores or at least make friends with someone who could get her up there. Her gut was telling her the wayward Slayer was somewhere in the barrio, hiding out in one of those houses.
“I want you to take the girls and head back to base,” Buffy said to Satsu.
“Now? Why?” Satsu asked, confused.
“We’ve covered a lot of ground today. I know you’re tired and hungry. You guys need your rest.”
“Honestly, I could go all night,” Satsu protested with a playful grin. “You know this.”
Buffy dipped her head a pushed a strand of hair behind her ear. She was still getting used to the flirty thing Satsu liked to do in public. Their relationship wasn’t a secret, but she was still a little gun shy about PDAs . It seemed like from the moment they hooked up the news about their relationship spread like wildfire. It was hard to keep things private for too long in a Scottish castle full of women. These days Buffy hoarded her privacy the way Xander hoarded his Twinkies. They were both weren’t very good at it.
“I know. Trust me,” Buffy flirted back. “But some of the girls aren’t as strong yet. I don’t want them expending all their energy on a wild goose chase.”
“I gotcha. I can always send them back and stick around with you. Four eyes are better than two.”
Buffy smiled at her girlfriend and brushed Satsu’s dark hair out of her face. “You’re right. But I really have to do this on my own. I don’t want you getting hurt… or worse.”
“You’re going to try the favelas, aren’t you?” Satsu’s eyes narrowed as she spoke. Buffy gave a slight nod of her head. “I knew it! Buffy, it’s dangerous to go alone. Let me come with you. You know I’ll have your back.”
“I know. But I really need you to do this, Satsu. It’s not an ask, it’s an order,” she said, putting her foot down.
Satsu shook her head and backed away from her commanding Slayer. They were no longer lovers. They were officers in Buffy’s Slayer army. “Fine. But one of these days, you’re going to have let someone in,” Satsu replied, before jogging back to the rest of the troops.
Alone, Buffy headed toward the center of town the locals called the barrio. Four years of Spanish and all I can say is ‘here is the library, Buffy scolded herself as she went up to random people for directions. She needed a guide, someone who was familiar with the area who could vouch for her. She had enough money to bribe someone brave or stupid enough to help her. Buffy moved past the tourists and performers, searching for someone who looked local.
“Hi, hola,” Buffy began speaking loudly to a man sitting outside of a coffee shop. “I need,” Buffy frowned as she searched for the word help. The Slayer cursed herself again, frustrated with her inability to communicate. She flailed her arms as she spoke. “I want to go there,” she pointed toward the favelas. “There,” she repeated. “Can you take me?”
“I’m not sure you want him to do that.” A familiar voice said from behind her. “He might mistake you for a lady of the night.”
Buffy’s entire body froze. The hairs on the back of her neck stood at attention as a shiver ran up her spine. She turned around slowly. Spike. Buffy blinked her eyes rapidly. She couldn’t count the times she imagined turning a corner to find him waiting for her. After closing the Hellmouth she dreamed about Spike often. Sometimes she saved him. Other times her dreams turned into grim nightmares where they both died. Buffy wasn’t sure if she was imagining him standing only a few feet away or if she was having some sleep deprived hallucination. She heard somewhere that sleep deprivation was the number one cause of death.
“Spike,” she said finally.
“S’ me, Slayer,” Spike said, pushing himself off a streetlamp. “In the flesh.”
Buffy took a hesitant step forward. She needed to touch him to know that he was real. The last time she saw him, he was going up in flames. “How are you…?”
“S’long story, and I’ll get to it eventually. But I reckon you’re trying to get up there,” he said nodding toward the favelas.
“Yes. No. Wait, how do you know what I’m–”
“I heard you asking that bloke in rather terrible Spanish,” he said with a smirk. “Next time you might want to try asking in Portuguese.”
“Portuguese? I don’t know—”
“Then it’s a good thing I’m a fair shake better at it than you are.” He chuckled. “How have you been, Slayer?”
Buffy shook her head confused at his nonchalance. “I was doing pretty good up until about five minutes ago.” Buffy paused and drank him in. “Spike,” she repeated his name to make sure he was real.
The vampire sighed and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. “Tell you what, I fill you in while we go lookin’ for your little lost bird. Promise,” he said, sticking a cigarette between his lips.
“Okay,” Buffy hedged. The longer they spoke, the more confused she became. How did he know about Cassia? Who told him that she was in Brazil? Why did he still look so good? Buffy pushed the last thought out of her head. Things in her life were complicated enough. She didn’t need to muddy the waters with old unresolved feelings for a man who up until five minutes ago was dead. “But first thing, how do you know what I’m doing down here?”
“Your boy Andrew filled us in.”
“Me and Angel. I’ll get to that,” he rushed. “Anyway, Andrew said you were gatherin’ up wayward Slayers for your army.”
“It’s not an army,” Buffy corrected. She hated that term. Once the Slayers became a united force, the U.S. government began keeping tabs on them. They worked hard to paint Buffy and her Slayers as a group of destructive vigilantes. It was a reputation she was trying to fix no thanks to the likes of Simone and her cronies. “We’re looking for other Slayers who we can help.”
Spike shrugged. “Whatever you say, Slayer. Andrew said you’ll be needin’ some help, and I had time.”
Buffy crossed her arms over her chest as they walked down the crowded streets together. She stole a glance at the vampire before training her eyes ahead again. If she looked at him longer than a minute, her knees would go weak. “How long have you been… helping?”
“Just a few months. Andrew said you were shorthanded and needed an extra pair.”
“Months,” Buffy repeated the word slowly. Months. She let that process for a few minutes. “So, you’ve been… here for months and this is the first time I hear from you.”
Spike ducked his head as if he was expecting her tongue lashing. “I came looking for you as soon as I was,” Spike paused as he searched for the right word. “back. I came looking for you, Slayer,” he repeated. “By the way how are you and Morty these days?”
“Who?” Buffy looked at him incredulously.
“Ah, that bad. I get it.” Spike flicked his cigarette on the ground before stomping it out.
He rolled his eyes. “You’re really going to make me ask, huh? You and The Immortal,” he clarified.
Buffy paused searching until she remembered. “Oh!” she managed between laughter. “That was one of Andrew’s crazy ideas. You must have seen one of the decoys.”
Now it was Spike’s turn to look at her as if she was off her rocker. “Decoys?”
Buffy nodded. “We planted them in different locations. After the Hellmouth, let’s just say I wasn’t everyone’s favorite Slayer anymore. While I’m here doing this,” she said flapping her arms. “My decoys are doing decoy like things around the world. Apparently, you saw the one who is dating The Immortal.” Buffy glanced at Spike furtively. “Does she really look like me?”
Spike looked in Buffy’s direction, recognizing a trap when he heard one. “I don’t know. I didn’t get a good look. You—she looked happy, so I thought I’d leave well enough alone. Made Andrew promise not to tell I was lookin’ for you, and here we are today.”
“The one time Andrew keeps a secret, and he doesn’t tell me my boyfriend is alive.” Spike whipped his head in Buffy’s direction causing her cheeks to flush. “Ex-boyfriend,” she amended quickly. “Anyway, thanks.”
“S’no problem, Slayer. Most of the time we send your birds flying back to the nest. And those who don’t want the responsibility get shipped to the sanctuary.”
Buffy stopped walking and turned toward Spike. “Sanctuary?”
“It’s the place where Slayers who don’t want to be part of the Ya-Ya sisterhood can go. You haven’t heard about it?”
Buffy had heard whispering of Slayers who refused the calling. She figured they just went on living. “No,” she said finally.
“Yeah. Dangerous times for Slayers, what with the government doin’ their initiative thing again. Some of the girls were lookin’ for a little extra protection without the responsibility.”
“And you and Angel are in charge of this… sanctuary?”
Spike shook his head. “No. We just guide them in that direction.”
How did she let this information get passed her? She was the leader of the Slayers. She should know these things. “What do you know about the Slayer we’re tracking tonight?” Buffy asked.
“Name’s Cassia. Orphaned at a young age. Partial to knives and trouble. I was supposed to find her and either get her to the sanctuary or deliver her to Ramona,” he said mentioning the L.A. branch’s commanding Slayer.
Buffy gave him a curt nod. “Thanks. We’ve been searching for her for two days with no luck. I think she’s up there.”
“Same,” Spike agreed. Silence fell over them as they moved closer to their destination. “I didn’t think I would run into you here,” Spike said after a pregnant pause.
“This has Andrew written all over it. I guess he decided to play cupid.” Spike lifted a brow. “Not that I’m single or anything,” Buffy rushed. Note to self, never trust Andrew with a heart to heart about my relationships again.
Spike chuckled. “I didn’t ask, Slayer.”
Buffy looked at Spike from the corner of her eye. “What about you? Seeing anyone special?”
“No. Been too busy fighting monsters and saving Los Angeles from being sucked into a hell dimension.”
“Yeah, I heard about that,” Buffy said grateful for the subject change. “By the time we caught wind of it, the city was restored as if nothing happened.”
“Good thing time moves differently in hell,” Spike murmured and slowed down his pace as they neared the favelas. “Things are about to get a little dicey,” he warned. “I’ll do the talking.”
Buffy started to protest but paused when she saw they were nearly on top of the favelas. Up close, the city of shanty homes was even more menacing than from afar. Buffy reached for the scythe she wore strapped to her back. Spike cautioned her against using it with a slight movement of his hand. One misstep and the chances of both of them leaving alive were slim. Spike walked ahead of her past a group of young men. The moment they crossed a certain invisible line, the locals melted from the shadows and surrounded them.
“I’m looking for a woman named Cassia,” Spike said in Portuguese. “The Slayer.”
One of the men stepped in front of Spike and crossed his arms over his broad chest. “What are you doing here, vampire? Yeah, I know you,” he spat.
Spike squinted at the man, trying to place him but coming up short. “I don’t think you do, mate,” he said holding up his hands in a sign of peace. “We don’t want no trouble. See that lady right, there” Spike said nodding toward Buffy. “She’s like Cassia. We just want to help.”
“We don’t need any help. We’ve got all the help we need right here,” he said pulling up his shirt to reveal a gun.
“Yeah, mate. I believe you. We just want to find the girl and—”
“I can pay you,” Buffy said. She had the money. Funding a world wide organization of slayers didn’t come cheap. Buffy had to figure out a way to pay for everything, and she wasn’t going to do that serving coffee at Starbucks. Her last haul paid out big time, giving her enough money to run her operation and bribe people apparently.
“We don’t want your money, gringa,” the man said to Buffy with a sneer. “Now, I’ll only tell you this one more time, get the hell out of here or say hello to my little friend.” The group of flunkies behind him laughed hysterically at his Scarface reference before sobering up.
“Or you can tell me where Sancho is,” Spike said. The name was his ace in the hole. Buffy saw the fear in their eyes when Spike mentioned him. In the favelas, there was no law. There was only Sancho. He was their judge, jury, and executioner.
“Sancho? You know Sancho?”
“He’s an old friend of mine. And I reckon he won’t be too happy when he hears that you and your little band of idiots refused to let me in his city.”
“Sancho no here.”
Spike cocked his head to the side annoyed with the lie. “He’s here. I can smell his stench from a half block away.”
The group of men huddled together and spoke to each other in hushed Portuguese. After a few minutes, the leader of the pack turned back toward Buffy and Spike. “Follow me,” he said with a scowl.
“Who’s Sancho?” Buffy whispered as they walked down a dirt road together.
“An old friend of mine.”
“Maybe next time lead with that?” Buffy said.
Spike shook his head. “We’re not exactly on the best of terms. I still owe him a basket of cats.” Buffy rolled her eyes. Spike started to say something more when the man held up his hand to stay them.
“You wait here,” he commanded before disappearing into one of the buildings.
The rest of the men continued to surround them as they waited for either their get out of jail free card or death wish. Buffy made a quick sweep of her surroundings. There were six men not including Scarface. They had guns, but she was certain she could take them out easily if she had to. A few minutes later, the man returned from inside the building.
“He says go inside. But you.” The man pointed at Buffy. “You leave that out here.”
“The hell I will,” Buffy scoffed.
“Buffy,” Spike warned.
“I’m not leaving it out here. Either it comes with me or—”
“Or what? You fight your way out of this. Think, Slayer. You want your girl or what?”
Buffy looked around again. This wasn’t what she had bargained for, but if it wasn’t for Spike, she’d still be yelling at people in broken Spanish. Buffy peeled off her scythe reluctantly and propped it against the door. She hoped she wasn’t making a huge mistake.
Originally posted at https://seasonal-spuffy.dreamwidth.org/900109.html