Rating: PG for now
Disclaimer: Not mine, no money, et cetera ad nauseum.
Spoilers: This goes AU after the 1st comic of S8; all the Scoobies are in Scotland but I didn't want to have to deal with any of the new issues or the upcoming Angel S6.
Notes: My first multi-chapter Spander. Betad by the lovely wildannuette, which is ironic since she's the one that introduced me to Spander in the first place. Feedback is life.
Previous chapters here.
“What possible catastrophe came crashing down from heaven and brought this dashing stranger to tears?” The woman who had spoken approached him slowly, dark hair gleaming in the reflected gaslight from the street.
“Nothing. I wish to be alone.”
“I see you. A man surrounded by fools who cannot see his strength, his vision, his glory. That and burning baby fish swimming all around your head.”
William shivered at the intensity of her gaze. "That's quite close enough. I've heard tales of London pickpockets. You'll not be getting my purse, I tell you."
“Don't need a purse." She smiled dreamily. "Your wealth lies here, and here,” she murmured, gesturing to his heart and head. “In the spirit and... imagination. You walk in worlds the others can't begin to imagine.”
“Oh, yes! I mean, no. I mean...mother's expecting me.”
“I see what you want. Something glowing and glistening. Something...effulgent.”
“Effulgent,” he breathed. Could this strange creature read his mind?
“Do you want it?”
No hesitation. “Yes. God, yes!”
"Spike! Wake up!"
Spike sat straight up with a gasp, for a moment bewildered and oblivious to his surroundings, seeing only a dank alley and wide dark eyes.
"Are you okay? You were making a lot of noise."
"Fine, luv," he said automatically, blinking the sleep out of his eyes. He hadn't had that dream in years, though it had been pretty common just after he'd been chipped and tied up in the whelp's basement. It bothered him that he now looked back on those days with all the nostalgia he'd once reserved for his century with Drusilla.
The car was parked at the edge of a ravine and empty, moonlit moorland stretched out in all directions. "Take it we've arrived, then?"
Vi grinned at him, teeth flashing in the dimness. "Look behind you."
He glared at her for a moment, but she just kept grinning cheekily at him. Finally he huffed and got out, slamming the door with a satisfying crunch before turning around.
He looked up. And up. "What, did the bloody Watcher kidnap a Laird or something?"
"No idea. But we got here about a week after Sunnydale and the place was all ready for us." Vi grabbed his bag before he could, throwing the strap casually over her shoulder and heading towards a small wooden door set amongst large blocks of stone. "Living in a castle may be wicked cool, but talk about drafty!"
Vi's hand was reaching out to the door when it swung open and yet another redhead slammed into him, skinny arms twining around his neck. "You big jerk," Willow sniffled into the collar of his duster.
More than a bit dazed, Spike slowly wrapped his arms around her waist. "Hullo, Red," he said gently as an odd warmth settled into his chest. He patted her back awkwardly, not really sure how to deal with a maudlin Willow.
"For heaven's sake, Willow, let him come in at least," Giles called from inside. Spike had heard that same tone of exasperated amusement a thousand times, and it had always brought a smirk to his face.
Nor did it fail to do so now. "C'mon pet, you know salt water ain't good for the leather," he chided, trying to lighten the mood a bit. He relaxed as she chuckled weakly and stepped back.
"Sorry. But Buffy said you'd been dusted, and we missed you, but this thing happened with Drusilla, then we found out you were back, and I'm going to kill Andrew, by the way –"
She froze when he put his hand over her mouth. "Missed your babble, Red. But breathe, yeah?"
Spike could feel her grinning behind his hand; she was going to start bouncing in a moment if he didn't head her off at the pass. "You gonna leave me on the doorstep all night?"
"Oh!" she gasped. "Of course! Come in, Spike." Willow grabbed his hand and dragged him into the room. He got a vague impression of a high ceiling and walls covered in bookshelves, but he only had eyes for the woman sitting in the high-backed chair by the fire.
Buffy smiled tremulously at him. "Hi."
He had to swallow a few times before he could answer. "Hello, Buffy." Wrenching his eyes away, he turned toward the tall man standing on the other side of the fireplace. "Rupe- bloody hell, what happened to your face?"
Giles gently touched the large purpling bruise on his jaw and tried not to wince. "A difference of opinion is all."
"Yeah, with Xander's fist!" Willow chirped gleefully.
"What?" Spike looked back and forth between them with his mouth hanging open. "Since when does Harris hit his soddin' father figure?"
Buffy crossed her arms and glared at Giles, who was cleaning his glasses sheepishly. "Since the father figure started lying to his child substitutes."
"Now, Buffy, I've already apologized –"
"She's not the only one you need to apologize to, mister!"
"Willow, you know Xander has refused to open his door –"
"Hey!" They all stopped at Spike's yell. "Not that I'm not enjoying this trip down memory lane – though if I said I was I'd be lying – but I did actually come here for a reason."
Giles slipped his glasses back on, looking absurdly grateful for Spike's interruption. "Yes of course. Do you want to go up and see Xander now, or would you rather rest and speak to him tomorrow?"
"Oh, and we've got human blood too!" Willow looked puzzled when they all stared at her. "Well, he has to eat, doesn't he?"
Spike patted her shoulder, and she beamed up at him. "I am a bit peckish, luv. How 'bout a mug of the good stuff, then I'll talk to the whelp."
"Here." Spike turned to find Vi behind him, holding a steaming mug. "I figured it's been a while since you've had anything to eat, what with the long plane ride and all."
"Ta, pet." It had been an age since he'd tasted actual human blood, and he wanted nothing more than to sit in peace for a while and relish it. But there was no way he could do that while in the same room with Buffy, so he downed it quickly and handed the mug back.
"So," he said, slapping his hands together and rubbing them briskly. "Where's Harris?"
A/N: Click here if, like my beta, you don't know what a Laird is.