Title: Readjustment 6/15
Rating: PG at the most
Beta: The incomparable incandragon
Spike spent the first night getting as far away as fast as he could. He stole a great American land yacht and started driving He had no destination in mind and ended up kipping in the boot just before sunrise. The tears he wouldn’t let Xander see clouded his eyes until he managed to fall asleep for a few hours.
He awoke before nightfall and spent the time trying to come up with some place to go. He would receive no warm welcome from Angel so LA was out, no telling where Dru had gotten herself off to, and the speculation ended there. Over 120 years walking the Earth and everyone who might give a damn about him had either turned their back on him or was irretrievably dead.
Xander wanted him to “go be a vampire” like he could just pick up where he left off when the Initiative grabbed him. He hadn’t been a true vampire in three long years, longer probably. The more he thought of it, the more he ran through all of Angelus and Darla’s pronouncements that he wasn’t a proper vampire at all. Maybe they had been right all along.
Still, moping wasn’t his style, and this wasn’t the first time he’d been on his own. Time to go out and find a town to paint red. At sunset he’d head east.
The next night he ditched the car for a sportier model, something worthy of a real road trip. He also realized where he was headed. New York City seemed the only fitting destination. Besides, he’d loved it there a few decades ago. It was just the sort of place for him to get his head back together after having it messed with for so long.
He was in no particular hurry to get there and took a meandering path through middle America. He went so far as to obtain animal blood in his first couple of stops, just to spite Xander bloody minded Harris. Before he was halfway to New York he’d decided that was going way too far. He could feed without killing. It took longer and was a bit riskier, but risk was the way he liked to play things anyway.
He was in Kansas when he took a corn fed, farmer’s daughter behind a bar. He hadn’t lost his touch in chatting up the birds and he had her convinced she was swooning with sexual satiation rather than blood loss easily enough. He sent her back inside and was on his way before anyone could comment on how pale she looked. He made a couple more stops before finding a motel to kip at for the day. His last meal lost more than a quart of blood as Spike relieved him of the laptop he had in his backpack.
Holed up for the day, a “Do not disturb” sign warding off the maid, Spike marveled at the fact that even out of the way, cheap motels had free wi-fi. Lifting the laptop had been a spur of the moment thing, just something to pass the time and make life easier, like the dosh he’d lifted off another bloke. He was checking to see if the twit had his bank account bookmarked. No such luck, perhaps he wasn’t as stupid as he looked, when the email icon seemed to be looming large on the screen. Spike puttered around, doing a bit of surfing, filling his newly acquired ipod with road trip music, but he’d never been good at self deception. Eventually he broke and logged onto his email account.
There were multiple unread messages waiting for him. Two from Dawn, one from Willow, even one from Rupert. There were seven from Xander.
He closed out without opening any of them. He went to sleep trying not to imagine what could be in those messages.
Two hours of tossing and turning later he fired up the laptop and pulled up the emails. He compromised with himself by reading Dawn’s messages first.
Sent: November 7, 2002 5:36:18 PM
Subject: Stupid vampire
How could you just leave without even saying goodbye? I thought you loved me! I don’t care how mad you were at Xander, who was being a big, fat idiot, you didn’t have to leave without talking to me. I don’t care that the chip isn’t working anymore. I’m glad it isn’t, because now you won’t get hurt anymore. I don’t care what Xander says, nothing could be worse than having you gone.
Why does everyone leave me?
The last line pretty well broke Spike’s heart. He almost responded but thought he should look at the second message first.
Sent: November 9, 2002 3:50:54 PM
Subject: Where are you?
I guess Xander was right. You’re probably off somewhere having a good time now that your “shock collar” is gone.
Maybe you don’t care that there are people back here who love you, maybe you’re not even reading this email. I wouldn’t have believed it but it’s been three days and we haven’t heard from you. You told Xander you would email me and you haven’t. Don’t you know we’re worried about you?
Call, or email or something. Maybe if you do Xander won’t look so sick firstname.lastname@example.org
Didn’t like the sound of that at all. It gave him a pretty good idea of what he would find in the other emails as well. He still didn’t feel up to reading Xander’s messages so he opened Willow’s.
Sent: November 9, 2002 5:23:43 PM
Subject: You’re in big trouble, mister!
I’ve got a shovel with your name on it. I told you not to hurt him and here you are, ripping him to pieces.
I know he told you to leave, and you’re probably feeling pretty crappy right now, but not knowing if you’re still walking around or not is ripping Xander apart. We’re your family, can’t you stop sulking long enough to let us know you’re all right?
Spike doubted the watcher was going to be so charitable in his missive. By the sound of it, things were a right mess back home. Time to let Rupert have his say.
Sent: November 9, 2002 10:23:53 AM
Subject: no message
Although I shouldn’t expect better of you, I would think you could stop reveling in your newfound freedom long enough to contact Dawn or Xander. Heaven knows why but they are beside themselves with worry over your sorry hide. Congratulations, you may have succeeded in destroying us with their love for you more thoroughly than you ever could have through more conventional email@example.com@gmail.com
Spike felt his stomach turn over. This wasn’t how he wanted this to go. Yes, he was mad at Xander but he didn’t want him hurting. Time to face the music.
Sent: November 7, 2002 11:32:13 AM
Subject: no message
I told Dawn. She hates me now. Don’t wait too long to contact her okay.
He immediately went to the next one.
Sent: November 7, 2001 7:43:31 PM
Subject: The ball’s in your court
Didn’t strike fast enough. She’s still not too pleased with me but now she hates you too. Don’t worry too much about it. Send her something nice from wherever you are and I’m sure you’ll be forgiven.
Sometimes Spike forgot just how generous Xander was. He found himself mulling over what he could get Dawn to smooth things over. Nothing here, but once he got to New York it would be easy to pick up a trinket she would love.
Sent: November 8, 2002 11:42:44 AM
Subject: Enough’s enough
Spike, I know you’re still ticked at me but that’s no reason to take it out on Dawn. Make contact firstname.lastname@example.org@gmail.com
Spike really didn’t want to open up the next one but there wasn’t much choice.
Sent: November 8, 2002 7:51:36 PM
Subject: Stop sulking!
It’s been two days! Respond already!
Spike didn’t feel quite so bad after reading that one. After two days he was supposed to just forget about having his heart shredded? Did Xander expect him to be sitting in some poncy Internet café somewhere just waiting for their emails? He had to put his life back together. He opened the next one in a much angrier frame of mind.
Sent: November 9, 2002 2:25:12 AM
Subject: I miss you
Okay, I was out of line with the last email. I’m kind of crabby right now. It’s just, every time I close my eyes I see something terrible happening to you. So, you might notice I’m not getting much sleep.
I know I have no right to ask, just, let me know you’re all right. Please.
That doused every bit of anger he’d managed to build up from the last message. He went to the next email.
Sent: November 9, 2002 11:56:43 AM
Subject: Guess I have my answer
Guess you’re too mad to respond. I don’t know what to say to make this right. Maybe nothing can.
Xander always expected people to walk away from him. Was his short term memory suffering? Spike hadn’t left, he’d been tossed out. Could none of them even comprehend that he might not be near a computer for a few days? He opened the last one.
Sent: November 9, 2002 11:51:31 PM
Subject: I’m really sorry
I’m sorry that I hurt you so badly. I guess I should have said that first thing, huh? I still believe everything I said three nights ago but hurting you was never my goal.
This is still your family. If you wanted to hurt us, your silence is a pretty effective punishment. You’re about to drive me to drastic measures. I’m going to see if Willow can’t find some way to magically locate you. I have to know you’re all right.
Xanderwatchergirl@gmail.com, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com@gmail.com
If Xander was turning to magic things were completely out of hand. Time to put a stop to all of this with a little message of his own. And fast. It was already ten in the morning, he expected Xander would fire off another round on his lunch break he was almost afraid of how maudlin that could get.
Sent: November 10, 2002 10:03:05 AM
Subject: Calm down
I’ve been traveling the last three days and only got my hands on a laptop last night. Stop being so bloody impatient. It’s not like I left with a plan or anything. I was shoved out the door without so much as a by your leave.
I’m not settled anywhere yet and I’m not likely to be for a bit more. If two days go by without my checking in I’m probably just driving through the day or some such. Don’t carry on so.
By the way, I haven’t killed a single person yet. So much for all your fine theories. I’m going to have you eating your words.
I will be in firstname.lastname@example.org@gmail.com
Spike wondered if that was enough, wondered if he had the strength to email Xander something more personal. Eventually, he decided he had no choice.
Sent: November 10, 2002 11:05:37 AM
Subject: Still here
So, here we are. I’m still not dusty so you can stand down from whatever foolishness you were going to try. I don’t know where I’m going and I’m likely to move around quite a bit. If experience is a teacher I could end up in some very remote regions. There may be times it will be a week or more before I can get to a computer.
I won’t stop contacting you, all right. I promise, for whatever that’s worth to you. Judging by our last talk, it’s not much. I’m going to prove you wrong and I’m going to come home. Just try not to get yourself killed in the meantime.
Spike surveyed that response with some satisfaction and went to bed, feeling better than he had since leaving email@example.com@firstname.lastname@example.org