Story 3: Confrontation
Buffy stared up at the huge skyscraper that housed the offices of Wolfram & Hart, Slayer senses tingling from all the evil within. Why? That's what had been going through her head on the plane from France and the cab ride through town. Why? What had happened to Angel to make him decide not only to leave her out of the loop of Spike's return, but to take the reins of an evil law firm, the same one that he’d been fighting against since his departure from Sunnydale five years ago? Would he answer her questions? Or do what he does best - stonewall her until she got so frustrated she left before dusting him completely? No. She wasn't going to let him put her off this time. Angel owed her an explanation. Maybe not about Wolfram and Hart, she was just curious about that, but about why he had failed to mention Spike's return.
"Luv, we don't have to do this if you’d rather not," Spike’s voice broke through her thoughts. He’d noticed her silence and how her muscles tensed as they stood before the building. "You don't have to see the Poofter at all if you don’t want to."
Buffy shook her head. As unpleasant as this visit was bound to be, it was necessary. Angel had to know that his little mind games and petty jealousies were to end immediately. He had to know that his position in her life had changed and he was no longer the man she wanted for a romantic relationship. Of course, he'd always have a place in her heart. He was her first love after all. But what they’d had was over and they could never get it back. Even if Spike was out of the picture, too much had happened in her life. She was no longer the wide-eyed teenager looking forward to a fairy tale life with her dark prince. She’d grown up and learned that fairy tale endings didn't exist.
"I have to do this. Angel and I need to set things straight now. He needs to know that I've stopped baking and moved on," Buffy squeezed Spike’s hand, a small smile on her lips, as a surge of love for the vampire at her side ran through her. She loved him. She really did. It wasn’t going to be easy telling Angel, but she was sure that once he saw how happy Spike made her, he'd understand and come to grips with it. That is, after she got through yelling at him for keeping her in the dark.
"Niblet, why don't you go grab an ice cream," Spike suggested, digging in his pocket for a twenty and handing it to Dawn. Things inside might get ugly and he didn’t want her to see it. It was best for all involved if she was out of the line of fire.
Displeased, Dawn crossed her arms. Everyone always treated her like she was five years old and she was thoroughly sick of it. She was seventeen years old now and old enough to stay in the room when things got intense. She opened her mouth to protest, but wisely shut it when saw the look on her sister's face. Buffy looked angry, sad, and nervous, all at once. She had a full plate, and the last thing she needed was to worry about her sister. Nodding, Dawn hugged her sister and surrogate brother and headed back to the hotel, already thinking of ways to preoccupy herself until their business with Angel was done.
"Thank you. I didn’t want her to see another argument between Angel and me. She's already witnessed enough," Buffy sighed with relief, sending another smile Spike’s way. He always seemed to know what to do in tough situations.
"We better head inside before the sun comes up," Spike pulled her towards the entrance, sensing sunrise on the horizon. "We can wait for him in his office."
Buffy nodded and followed Spike inside. Her eyes widened at the huge expanse of the foyer alone. The place was huge. Even at this hour, a few lawyers wandered to and fro, heading to different destinations and meetings with clients. Angel ran all of this? She looked up at Spike, who just grimly nodded, thinking that she was astounded by how low Angel had sunk.
"Wow. This place is huge! And evil. Very evil," she added, noticing the look Spike gave her. "Where's his office by the way?"
"We’ll find it," Spike answered, his hold on her hand strengthening as he pulled her to the nearest elevator.
"Hello, Mr. Spike," a lawyer nodded, exiting the elevator.
Buffy arched a brow in amusement. That was too weird. "So it's Mr. Spike now?"
He shrugged sheepishly. He’d repeatedly told all of the lawyers working under Angel that it was just Spike. No Mister, Master, or Your Great Non-Evilness. Just Spike. "I tried to get them to stop."
"Oh, and I see it’s working just fine," Buffy smiled, eyes laughing as the elevator took them to the first floor. All humor disappeared as there was a loud ding, signaling that they had reached the CEO’s top floor dwelling.
"We're here. Angel central."
"Wow. Nice digs," she frowned as she saw a demon enter one of the offices. "Uh, are you sure Angelus hasn't made a guest appearance recently?"
"Quite sure. Angel's still the same mopey Poof he always is. Are you ready, luv?"
Buffy nodded, though she wasn’t really, but it couldn't be helped. She was too angry to let this go, plus it was only fair that she let Angel know that she had moved on and so should he. "Don’t leave me."
"Never," Spike pulled her closer to his side as they stepped out of the elevator to come face to face with Harmony, setting at her desk, doing nothing important, but filing her nails . She looked up with a smile when she saw Spike, but her grin faded when she noticed Buffy by his side.
"I can't believe you!" Harmony stood angrily from her chair , already in vamp face. "I thought you’d changed! I thought you were going to be my Platinum Baby again! But then you left, and when you came back you brought Bitchy the Vampire Slayer with you!"
"Harmony? In Angel’s office? Are you sure he hasn't lost his soul again?" Buffy glanced at Spike, who merely smirked in amusement, ignoring Harmony's self-righteous outburst. She knew better than to think that Harmony and Spike had anything going on.
"Well, let me tell you something, Mister," Harmony came out from behind her desk.
"Where’s Angel," Buffy interrupted Harmony's impending outraged speech. She had no time for tirades and tears from her former schoolmate. She wanted to get this thing done and over with so they could all go on with their lives.
"He's in a meeting. So now leave," Harmony crossed her arms, openly glaring at Spike.
Rolling his eyes, he grabbed Buffy's hand and together they stormed into Angel’s office. They found him behind his desk, surrounded by the Angel Investigations team. They all looked up to see Buffy and Spike purposefully stalking toward their leader. Buffy was in the forefront and before anyone could stop her, her small fist slammed into Angel’s nose, knocking him back against the glass.
"Buffy?" Wesley stared at her in shock as everyone else rushed to Angel’s aid.
"Spike? What's going on here?" Fred asked, her chocolate eyes curiously examining Buffy. Yep. This was the infamous Slayer. She could tell from the force of the punch to Angel’s nose.
"Angel, should I call security?" Gunn asked, as they helped Angel up away from the window and back to his desk. Angel just shook his head. He didn’t want outsiders involved in this. Obviously Buffy was angry, and not thinking clearly. That was no reason to land her in jail. He glared at Spike, convinced that the bleached freak had something to do with this. "I'm fine. Could you leave us alone for a bit? Buffy and I seem to have something to talk about here," Angel didn’t take his eyes off Spike, ignoring the Buffy’s angry gaze.
"Uh, I don’t know if that's such a great idea. Maybe we should have her sing for me first, just so we're sure she's not evil," Lorne suggested nervously.
Buffy's hostile glare landed on Lorne. "What in the hell are you?"
"Ok, that was rude," Lorne took a step back.
"He's a friend," Angel explained. "He can read souls when when someone sings. And he probably has nothing to do with whatever made you mad at me."
"You’re right. He doesn't. It has to do with you not telling me that Spike was back and convincing him to stay away!"
"You're going to want to be alone for this,” Fred cut in apprehensively. “Uh, guys, I think the meeting’s dismissed for right now. Why don’t we go and home and get some sleep?"
"I don’t know, she could stake him and we'd be out of jobs," Gunn frowned, uncomfortable with leaving Angel alone with a pissed off Slayer.
"I'll be fine. She won't stake me," Angel reassured, trying to feel as confident as he sounded. He’d never seen Buffy this angry, at least, not with him. What was worse was that he knew she had a right to be. "You can go home now. I was about send you all home anyway."
Fred nodded taking hold of Wesley's arm, who was reluctant to leave Angel alone with a still-glaring Buffy. "C’mon, Wes, guys, let’s go. Spike you coming?"
Spike shook his head. He didn’t want to miss this. Finally, Angel was going to see that Buffy didn’t need him anymore, that Spike was worthy of her love and his respect. "Think I’ll stay. Don’t want to miss the fireworks."
"Maybe it’s best if you let them talk alone," Fred suggested tentatively, unsure of how everything was going to turn out, wanting to save her friend from Angel’s anger.
"Spike stays," Buffy tightened her hold of his hand.
"Fine. Come on Fred," Gunn ushered her out of the room. All too soon, the only people in the room were the Slayer and vampires.
"So Buffy, Spike, I think I can guess what this is about," Angel watched them warily. He frowned when he noticed their joined hands. He shifted his eyes to Buffy’s, his hurt at her “betrayal” apparent.
"How dare you?! How dare you not tell me that Spike was back, then tell him not to contact me?! What gave you that right?"
Angel glared at Spike. So that’s where the annoyingly persistent thorn in his side had gone. Completely ignored his advice and instantly went in search of Buffy, despite agreeing to leave her alone. He should have known. The boy never thought of anyone but himself.
"Don’t look at Spike! Look at me! You owe me an explanation Angel! I mean, what were you thinking? That I'd forget all about everything Spike had done and just fall into your arms when I was ready to settle down? That I wouldn't care that Spike wasn’t as dead as we all thought?"
"Buffy, you don’t understand. I just wanted to give you what you deserved. You had a chance at a normal life, for the first time. I just wanted to make sure that nothing stood in the way of that," Angel tried to justify, leaning back in his chair with a sigh.
"A normal life? Angel, I will never have a normal life. A normal life is living in ignorance of exactly what goes bump in the night. It’s not having memories of soul-losing boyfriends and stopping apocalypses! A normal life is the one thing I will never have! And as for Spike standing in the way of that, he never could, never would."
Angel gawked at Buffy, disbelief written clearly on his features. He couldn’t believe how naive she was being about the other vampire. Had she forgotten all the times he’d tried to kill her, or, better yet, how Spike had nearly killed him? It was unbelievable. He had no choice but to laugh. "I thought you were smarter than this, Buffy. Just the fact that he didn’t leave you alone is proof that he hasn’t changed a bit! If he really cared, he would’ve left you in peace! He would have stayed away."
"You mean like you did? So you wanted me to go on grieving for someone who wasn’t dead? Someone I couldn’t have? For me to keep wishing that I could go back in time and --"
"That’s not what I meant."
Spike rolled his eyes. Angel was just digging himself deeper into the hole he’d created, and at this rate, they’d be there all night watching him try to clamber out. Besides, his Grandsire wasn’t the only one to blame. He should have contacted her himself the minute he became corporal again. There was no excuse for his behavior.
"Buffy, stop. It’s not all Angel’s fault," Spike interrupted her rant, not believing that he was standing up for Angel like this. It was perfect. She was utterly disgusted with his grandsire, but he couldn’t set back and let him take all the blame. His fucking soul wouldn’t let him. "I’ve been corporal for a while now. Angel may have told me not to contact you, but it was still my decision. He didn’t force me to stay away. If it hadn't been for Fred, I don’t know if I ever would’ve worked up the nerve to find you."
"Fred was involved in all of this?" Angel’s eyes widened in shock. He knew she had a crush on Spike, but he hadn’t thought she'd encourage him to be with Buffy.
"You’re agreeing with him?" Buffy turned to Spike, hazel eyes disbelieving and hurt. She’d thought that he loved her, so why would he purposely stay out of her life? She couldn’t understand it. At least with Angel, she knew he had the “normal life” issues, but she hadn’t thought Spike would share those. She’d thought they were OK with each another. "I-I don’t understand --"
"I was a confused mess when I came back, Buffy. So much was happening and I just couldn’t believe that you might actually want to be with me. I didn’t believe that I deserved to be with you either, not after all I’ve done, until Fred gave me her little pep talk."
"Spike, she's right. You do deserve to be happy. Just like I deserved to know that you were back. You should have at least called."
Spike bowed his head, ashamed. "I know. And I’m sorry." Spike turned to Angel. He had to make some things clear. Of course, this should come from Buffy, but he needed to say it, perhaps more then she did. "Listen, Peaches. Buffy and I are going to be together, no matter what you say. And, unlike you, I won’t be walking away from her. The day I do will be the day I’m dust."
Angel shook his head, staying his anger. He knew why Spike was doing this. He really had no interest in Buffy. This was all a ploy to get even. He’d had taken Drusilla away from Spike in his Angelus days, so now it was time for Spike to take away someone Angel loved. But he wasn’t going to let it happen. Once Buffy knew what all this was really was about, she'd undoubtedly drop Spike like a hot potato.
"You hate me this much, Spike? I took Dru away, so you decide to take away the one person I ever loved I ever loved?"
Spike looked at his lover, contemplating his reasons for loving her as much as he did, for wanting to be with her. Was Angel somehow right? Was this all about revenge? He shook his head, a small smile on his lips. Angel had nothing to do with his feelings for Buffy. It was everything he’d told her the night the Scoobies kicked her out. His reasons had nothing to do with him or his history, and everything to do with her bravery, her heart, how she tried. He loved the light that shone in her eyes when she smiled and her warmth and loyalty. No, Angel had nothing to do with that.
"You just don’t get it, do you, Peaches? You have absolutely nothing to do with it. If you haven't noticed, Ms. Summers here is one hell of a woman. I love her for the fire she possesses, both as the Slayer and as a human. She loves me despite everything. She makes me feel alive again, like I’m a man instead of a monster. She’s not a thing that I can take away from you. She’s not some prize to be won. She’s a human being and I love her more then I could ever have loved Dru. She’s everything Dru could never be, and more. My love for Buffy has nothing to do with you. As for hating you, I don't. The only thing I ever wanted from you was an apology for all the shit you put me through all those years. An apology for how you've treated me since I came back. But even with a soul, you never did apologize. Not once. Not for Dru, not for the torture, and certainly not for trying to convince me that Buffy never loved me. You just sit at your desk, all high and mighty and self-righteous, like you’ve never done anything wrong in your two hundred plus years."
"Spike," Buffy touched his shoulder, seeing all the years of hurt Angel inflicted on him burning in his eyes. Her heart went out to him. He’d suffered at the hands of Angelus for so long and then Angel. She couldn’t help but still be angry with Angel. For Spike’s sake if for nothing else. She looked at her ex, unable to believe that she’d once loved him so completely, once felt that he could commit no evil. How wrong she’d been. "Don’t you think you can at least give him that much?"
"I don’t owe him anything, and you’re a fool if you believe that his feelings for you are real. Buffy, come on. This is Spike!" Angel stood from his desk, refusing to feel guilty for his treatment of his grandchilde. He'd endure torturous guilt for everything else, but never for his actions toward the blonde. "He can't possibly love you."
He regretted that statement as soon as it slipped out.
"So is that it with you? I'm so repulsive and horrible that not even Spike could love me? I mean, fine, I've made my fair share of mistakes, but --"
"That's not what I meant," Angel sighed, feeling horrible. He hadn't meant to hurt her. He just wanted to open her eyes to the game Spike was trying to play.
Spike wrapped a comforting arm around her shoulder, sending the older vamp poisonous glances. He’d had enough. He wasn’t going to get an apology out of Angel, and the Captain Hair Gel wasn’t going to admit he was wrong or give them his blessing. The best thing they could do was leave. But not before he had the last word.
"You know, we didn’t come here for your blessing. We came here because Buffy had something to say to you. But instead of listening, you just had to go off on your insipid speech, virtue a-fluttering. Just know this: my love for her is far more real than all of this empty luxury you seem to crave and surround yourself with."
"So, what? I get my riches and you get my girl?" Angel growled, vamping out. "I don’t think so, Spike."
"I am not your girl anymore! Not since you decided to make me forget the one day we were ever truly happy," Buffy declared, pain and fury shining in her eyes. She’d tried to keep it to herself and let Angel have his way, thinking she’d forgotten the day he’d turned human, and yet again turned his back on their love. But she couldn’t. Not this time. She had a second chance at love and she wasn’t about to let Angel ruin it.
"Buffy, you remembered that --?" he tried to interrupt, but Buffy wouldn't let him. She was going to end this once and for all. Their relationship had been wonderful once, but it was finally really over and she was going to make it painfully clear.
"That’s right. I remembered all of it. How you were human, and, for once, I felt like I was going to be happy again. I’d gotten you back and you were human and could walk out into the sun. We had everything we could ever want. We had each other. But of course that wasn’t enough for you. You found out you weren’t the strongest and fastest anymore, and you couldn’t stand it! So what did you do? Run and beg to have your powers back and make me forget! You kept the only memories of our happiness while I was stripped of them! If it wasn’t for Giles, I would never have remembered!"
Spike and Angel both frowned. When had she gone to see Giles, and why was he messing with her memories?
"I was having these weird dreams of Angel becoming a human and us being together,” she said off their questioning looks. “I thought they were about the future until I realized that your friend Doyle was in it. If I’m not mistaken, Doyle is dead, and has been for years, so it couldn’t have been the future. I went to see Giles and he hypnotized me, and we eventually ran into the hidden memory. How could you, Angel? How could you have taken that day away from me like that? I had a right to remember."
Angel stared at her in shock, not knowing how to explain his actions. All he’d wanted to do was protect her, keep her safe and happy. But all he ended up doing was hurting her terribly and driving her into the arms of his enemy. What could he say that would make it all better?
"Buffy, I'm sorry...I just wanted to protect you. They told me that you would die if I remained a human. I-I just wanted you to be safe. To be alive and happy. I knew that if you remembered that day, you never would have been happy. I did it for you. Everything I’ve ever done has been for you."
"No. Everything you've ever done has been for yourself," Buffy gazed at him sadly. Maybe he did love her, and somewhere in her heart, she still cared for him. But their time together was over. They’d grown and become such different people than who they had been those first years in Sunnydale. She didn’t even know who Angel was anymore. It was best for them to go their separate ways. Maybe someday they could be friends, but for now, things were too raw and painful. She turned to Spike, her harsh expression softening into one of warmth and trust. "We better go. Dawnie’s probably crawling up the walls by now."
Spike glanced one last time at Angel, noting the sadness in his suddenly aged eyes. One would never think that this was an ageless vampire. He looked to be over four hundred rather than two hundred. He fought down the urge to gloat about his “victory”, and Angel’s final and ultimate loss. Gloating would only make things worse and brass the Slayer off. "I’ll take a rain check on that apology, Peaches."
Angel didn’t answer, choosing instead to glare at his grandchilde as he wished he could do something to stop Buffy from leaving with him. But there was nothing he could do. He’d lost her for good. All hope of getting her back was now just as lost as any relationship he had hoped to have with his son. The only thing he could do now was wish her well and let her go. There was no other way around it.
"I wish you would change your mind," Angel’s voice was soft and incredibly defeated.
Buffy fought down the rising urge to rush into his arms and forgive him for everything. There was too much to forgive now, and she couldn’t just let it go this time. She was going to need time and space. She knew where she belonged now, and it wasn’t with Angel. Her gaze was sad, but her voice was steady and sure as she said, "Good-bye Angel."
Angel’s voice was lost, too overcome with emotion to speak. The only woman he had ever truly loved was walking out the door with his blood rival. It all seemed so unfair. After all he'd done for the Powers, he’d still lost everything. Cordelia, Connor, the promise of the Shanshu prophecy, and Buffy. Watching her walk out of his life, hand in hand with Spike without a backward glance, he slid down into his chair and buried his head in his hands. For the first time since his run in with the First all those years ago, Angel wished for his final death.
On their way to the elevator, Buffy spotted Fred and waved her over. She had a strange feeling that she couldn’t leave things as they were with Angel. She might not be in love with him anymore, and she might be angry with him for lying to her, but she still cared about him, and she wanted to make sure that he’d be OK. "Listen, can you stay with Angel for the next couple of days? Make sure he's OK?"
Fred nodded, a bit surprised by the request. She’d thought the Slayer was angry and could care less about her ex. But obviously she was wrong; Buffy still had it in her heart to care when Angel was hurting. Glancing at Spike, she wondered how he could ever doubt her love for him. "S-sure. I won’t let him out of my sight."
"Ready to go, luv? The sun’ll be up any second now, and I don’t want to be stuck here all day," Spike wrapped a secure arm around Buffy’s shoulders, pulling her as close as possible.
"I'm ready," she replied, smiling at her love contentedly, ready to follow him to the ends of the earth. He was her soul mate, her true companion. All the hurt and pain of the past year was finally over, and it was time to move on.
Just as Spike and Buffy reached the foyer, Fred called out, "Spike, wait!" She rushed to her friend and gave him a big hug and quick peck on the lips, not letting her affections for the vampire overcome her. Spike didn’t have a clue that she had deep feelings for him, feelings bordering on love. The important thing to her was Spike’s happiness, and the woman by his side obviously made him happy. Never before had she seen his sapphire eyes dance and sparkle with complete and utter joy like they were now, nor had his face lit up with such a happy smile. This was what she’d wanted: Spike to be happy and whole once again. And now he was, in part because of showing him that not only was he worth saving, but he was worth loving as well.
"I'm going to miss you," she sniffed, wiping away a tear.
"Ah, don't worry, pet. I’ll probably be dropping by here again for the annual family reunion we seem to love so much. Take care of the gang for me."
"Of course," Fred agreed as she stepped away, releasing his free hand. "Take care of him, Buffy."
Buffy smiled, her hazel eyes glowing with love for the man by her side. "Oh I plan to."
Smiling, Fred watched them enter the elevator. Watching through a side window, she sighed as they walked away, from their confrontation with Angel, love firmly intact. She knew then that Spike was on his way to a better and happier life. Silently, she wished them the best of luck before slipping into Angel’s office to offer him some much-needed comfort and support.
SHORT STORY INDEX