“Waiting for the Apocalypse”
Pairings/Characters: Buffy/Angel—Angel/Spike and Spike/Buffy overtly mentioned.
Rating: R, for sexual content, some angst, and alternating POV.
Disclaimer: All belongs to Joss and ME, et al. Not for profit.
Summary: Spoilers through “Chosen” and NFA. Set about a decade later.
“You’re…you’re not supposed to be here.”
“Well, I’ve got a prophecy in my back pocket that would beg to differ.”
Warnings: Character death, and that character is Spike. This is, however, in no way an “anti-Spike” fic, quite the contrary, IMO.
Acknowledgements: Beta credit goes to kita0610, who is fabulous and sprinkles commas AND insight onto my fic. tkp, kittyzams, and amybnnyc also deserve special mention for reading drafts of this story and providing much needed cheerleading and hand-holding.
Author’s Note: Written for the lynnevitational ficathon in May 2006.
Word Count: Almost 5000.
Her face was caked with blood. So was her hair where strands of disobedient bangs clung to her face outside of a utilitarian high ponytail. She had the beginnings of fine lines around her eyes, and new-to-him scars. The axe she’d been retrieving the last time Angel had seen her was firmly gripped in her right hand, while the left tried its best to wipe battle dust off her denim-encased thigh.
She’d never looked more beautiful to him. She was alive. A lot.
Buffy looked up from the futile jeans-cleansing process and all movement stopped. She just stood there—a full-grown woman he’d never met—and stared.
“You’re…you’re not supposed to be here.” Her eyes were wide and glistening with some witch’s brew of emotion that Angel couldn’t read. He heard her breath catch and her heartbeat hammered his eardrums.
Angel coughed. “Well, I’ve got a prophecy in my back pocket that would beg to differ.” He hadn’t planned this—had no dialogue prepared—because some hopes burn brighter without words attached.
“I thought you were dust.”
“You were supposed to.” The words just fell out of his lips.
“What!?” Buffy looked at him then like he was an alien instead of a ghost.
“No, I didn’t mean it like that.” His hand caught her by the shoulder. Quietly, he continued, “Buffy, everyone was supposed to think that.”
And then she gazed up at him and Angel blinked, marveling at the discontinuity between how tiny she actually was, standing before him like a warrior sprite, and the looming stature she carried in his mind.
“I pissed some people off.”
He hazarded a slight smile and nearly shuddered with relief when she rolled her eyes and replied, “Did you now? Somehow I’m not surprised.”
And then, even though there were innumerable pressing issues to discuss and myriad exclamations that could be made, Buffy turned around to survey their surroundings: the dusty, pot-hole ridden street, boarded up houses on either side, oh yeah, and the various types of demon guts mixing and congealing with vamp dust on the ground.
She squinted up at the moon, nearly full in the desert sky, and then looked down to where it illuminated Angel’s silhouette and remarked, “What in the hell are you wearing anyway?”
“Spike is dead.”
“He’s been dead,” Buffy said, giving Angel the raised eyebrows of “obvious much?”
“No, I mean he’s more dead.”
“Yeah, I know, I was there. Brought the Hellmouth down. Crazy fireworks. Fugly old necklace. He turned into the hero that probably neither of us expected him to be.” She wanted to talk about it, but she also didn’t, because in her heart Spike was still kind of like a sentence unfinished, and that hurt when she thought about it too much. Even now.
Angel’s voice was tender and cautious as he ventured further. “Oh Buffy, you really didn’t know.”
“What are you talking about? Is it really necessary to keep up with the whole inscrutable Vampire stuff? We’re on the eve of an apocalypse here.”
It turned out that it was a good time for a joke—Angel laughed and Buffy thought that he had a beautiful, albeit somewhat dorky laugh and that it was too bad that she hadn’t heard it more. He tapped a gravestone lightly with one large, sneaker-clad foot and said, “What else is new?”
Without even meaning to, they’d meandered their way towards the lone, decrepit graveyard in this tiny, rundown Arizona town. But it made sense—graveyards always felt familiar everywhere she went. It was like they were all part of a larger piecemeal landscape, where she was meant to be—fighting.
“Y’know, from the looks of this place, wouldn’t really expect it to be demon central. I mean, they usually pick more happening places, or at least ones where there are more people to eat.”
Angel nodded. “As of last week, it wasn’t. They’re harbingers.”
“Ah yes, those.” Buffy jumped over a gravestone, spry as a cat, landing squarely on her cowboy-booted feet, and Angel racked his brain to figure out how old she was now. From the way she moved, it didn’t seem like she was somewhere around thirty years old, but time told him that she was. Though he wasn’t really sure how one was supposed to move at thirty, never having exactly reached that age.
“Where are all the ghoulies? Did they just disappear? I could have sworn we didn’t get ‘em all back there.” Buffy was methodically knocking the mud off of her boots—an impossible task but she persevered all the same. “And what’s this about a prophecy in your back pocket? Are there like, his and hers prophecies? Because there’s no mention of you in the scroll the counsel’s got.”
Angel pulled a tattered piece of paper out of his jeans—dark denim, well cut. “Wow, he wasn’t joking about that,” Buffy thought.
“I don’t know, Buffy. I found this in what was left of Wesley’s papers after…” He stopped talking then and looked pained.
Wesley? Of course, the Watcher. He’d become Angel’s friend, she remembered, and died in that battle in LA, she only knew about once it was over. The battle that’d killed Angel too…except that it hadn’t.
He never stops mourning, she realized. But then, neither does she really—for her mother, for Spike… But heroes just keep going. It’s in the handbook and everything.
Buffy reached up to put her hand on his shoulder gently and whispered, “Angel.” He looked down into her eyes, and there it was again, electricity, like no time had passed. Except that it had and Buffy couldn’t entirely figure out how this all wasn’t some kind of bizarre dream.
She exhaled out a deep breath and let the words fly, “God, Angel, I think that I should be angry with you. That used to be what I’d do. Except that I’m a big girl now, and I’m sure you had some good reason for hiding yourself from me, from the world. Some kind of super heroic reason…but I find myself standing here, in yet another graveyard, chatting about scrolls like everything’s normal when really this is all just coming straight from the land of the wig. How weird is that?”
Angel shrugged and pulled up the hood of his sweatshirt. “Yeah well, I thought I was flying this apocalypse solo.”
In spite of herself, or perhaps because of herself, Buffy cracked a grin. “Ha! But what’s an apocalypse without a slayer, right?”
“Good point,” Angel admitted, a slight ripple passing over his features, almost a smile but not quite. “And Buffy? For the record, I’m glad that I’m not—alone, I mean.”
“Me too,” Buffy rejoined quickly. She shifted her weight from the heels of her boots to her toes, feeling a backlog of miscellaneous life events crowding her throat, but first she said, “It’s getting light—you need cover. Where are you…?”
Angel pointed back towards town. “At the motel back there. Rates are cheap, because well, everyone’s fled town.”
“Well, lead the way then, Sir. Don’t want you turning into flambé boy before you explain yourself.” Buffy picked up her axe and started off at a fast trot.
Angel patted the front of his sweatshirt for stakes and caught up with her in a flash. “I’ll tell you, Buffy. Just give me time.”
She just nodded as they fell into step.
He couldn’t help the sidelong glances, ‘cause she was beautiful in a whole new way. The same spring in her step, light in her eyes thing that made him fall in love with her on sight—that was still there, but also more—things about her that he didn’t know yet, but he loved them anyway already. Angel trusted in that.
He blinked fast when he realized that she probably looked older than he did.
That was pretty hot.
Outside the window, past a layer of grime, there was nothing but desolation and unnatural sounding winds, and inside—well, it looked like every other cheap motel room in the history of cheap motel rooms.
Buffy stretched her arms over her head and wished for another change of clothes. But her luggage had gone the way of demon guts—lost in the battle. The battle that seemed to have disappeared with no explanation whatsoever.
“I am so over all these prophecies.”
Angel smiled wryly. “Oh yeah? But you’re here.”
“Well, say if something does actually happen and the world were to go kablooie and I wasn’t here, I wouldn’t forgive myself. So I’m here to avert guilt. Cover the bases, you know? Besides, I always dreamed of visiting…where the hell are we, anyway?”
“Right, I knew that.” Buffy paused for a second. “Angel?”
“I missed you.”
Buffy’s muscles were sore from fighting, and her heart ached in that beautiful sort of way that defies description and makes the passing of years seem palpable. But even though she was so, so tired, beneath the exhaustion her body was zinging in response to Angel’s presence.
When she was seventeen, she was in heat for him—literally—there were hot flashes and sweaty shaking and everything.
Late nights in that old mansion, under the kind of candle light that makes everyone prettier, when they’d done all the sparring they could handle, they’d torture themselves. Over the clothes, rubbing and thrusting and trembling because it was just one layer of cloth, one inch more—they were stuck, teetering on a delicious, maddening precipice over which they could not—would not—go.
Sometimes when they were too far gone to talk about what they were doing, Angel would get her off, hooking thick, worshipful fingers under her panties until she almost screamed, but he freaked out the one time she wrangled her lips around his cock. That was when she’d still been embarrassed about how wet she got.
That was when soul kisses could almost substitute for fucking, and she was trying so hard for love to be enough.
You’re never hot for someone like you are when you’re seventeen ever again. But more than a decade later, sitting on this dingy, standard-issue motel room bedspread and looking up into Angel’s never-changing face, Buffy felt her desire(s) for him stack up in layers: the mysterious tingles that ran up through her rounder, adolescent body when she first saw him, the graveyard make-out sessions and the anticipation of “doing it,” the fleeting satisfaction of having him that one time—wanting and needing even as he was inside her, the torturous frustration in the year after he lost and regained his soul, and then the years of a longing that changed flavor subtly as she aged, as she grew in experience and gained history of her own.
So when she looked at him this time, and her knees began to feel weak and her pussy tremored beneath her jeans, Buffy felt as though she was all of those other Buffys all at once—wanting him—but also Buffy the grown-up, the woman who knew what she wanted and how to get it. At least she usually did.
There had been others since, Spike most notably, and then there was that on-again-off-again thing with The Immortal, plus the handful of human boyfriends—Watchers mostly—and she’d cared for them, expanded her horizons and what not, but your first lover is your first lover, no matter how many years pass. And despite the unfamiliar short hair—lighter—and the normal guy clothes, he was still the same Angel, like a snapshot of handsome.
What do I look like to him?
“Buffy, you’re beautiful,” he said as if he’d been listening in.
“I’m tired,” was all she could think to say, but it was true.
“I’ll let you sleep,” Angel said softly. “I can take the first watch. We should rest in shifts because you never know when something might happen.”
“OK,” she said, already half asleep and dreaming.
Buffy was flushed and moving in her sleep. Angel watched her, head propped up on one hand, feeling as though this was somehow something he wasn’t meant to see. And when she called out Spike’s name, he knew why. A long-expired wave of jealousy coursed through him but he shrugged it off.
In her dream, Spike was there, pressing kisses into her cunt and whispering how he loved her.
Her mind’s eye Spike was beautiful, naturally. But not desperate beautiful like he’d been during that terrible year after she first came back, and not heroic beautiful, but intimate, lover-beautiful. And it made her want to cry, because somewhere the lucid part of her knew that she’d never really had this, not in its entirety. This was a love she’d had parceled out—the passion separate from the trust. But in her dream, the two came together and rocked her.
The last time he fucked Spike was almost indistinguishable from most of the other times—well, the times when he was Angel instead of Angelus. They killed things, they argued, one thing led to another and then there were lips mashing together and pants around the ankles. Not that that was too different from back in the old days. The difference being that they weren’t cruel to one another. Sometimes rough—often rough—but not cruel. Also, they killed demons instead of humans. There was that bit too.
Angel still missed it. Missed Spike—the comradery and the love that didn’t have to be voiced.
He might have gotten drunk once and told Spike that he didn’t half-mind being exiled with his whiny, British self, but Angel couldn’t quite remember
Spike had told him though—that was what made the last time different. Just after he brought Angel off with that wicked mouth of his, Spike looked up at him smiling, tongue between his teeth and said, “I love you, you old git.” And when Angel was opening and closing his mouth like a post-orgasmic fish, Spike yammered on, “And I know you love me, so don’t bother sayin’ it. No need to worry your pretty, gigantic head.”
And that was that. Angel pulled Spike up by his collar and kissed him hard and Spike laughed into his mouth and kissed him back.
In hindsight, it was as though Spike had known, because the next day when Angel was trapped between a hard place and a demon with a massive sword, Spike got in the way, growled, “Don’t say I never did anything for you, mate,” and turned to dust when the great ugly thing lopped off his head. Angel killed that demon with its own sword, stabbing it more times than necessary, but it didn’t bring Spike back.
It didn’t seem right, that a demon—granted a particularly nasty one—but a plain old demon could extinguish someone as incorrigible as Spike. It just wasn’t ever going to seem right.
If Angel told Buffy this, it might accomplish nothing but to hurt her. But for once, the silence was killing him. It tasted like lying. Like he was unworthy of their love.
Buffy felt irrationally guilty when she woke up, and her face was still dirty and that was totally gross. But she also knew that it was time to tell the truth—she owed him that.
She turned to where Angel was still positioned on the chair and announced, “I loved Spike, you know. He didn’t believe me, but I did. And then he died.”
She held her breath and waited for Angel to react. Would he be angry? Surprised? Did he have any right?
He surprised her when he simply stated softly, “I think he might have known, Buffy.”
Angel sounded so sure, and she wondered how and why but she needed to wash her face and he needed to sleep so she just nodded thanks, held back her tears and went to the bathroom to splash cool water over the already-healing cuts on her face.
“So as apocalypses go, this one’s pretty run of the mill, I guess. Yada yada, a sign from above, yada yada, hell opening up from beneath.” Buffy was gesticulating with her hands and it was mesmerizing him. So this is what perky looked like all grown up. “Hey do you know if ‘apocalypses’ is right? Is that the plural? Or is it apocali? I’m still not sure on that.”
“Not too sure on that one either, Buffy. I just know that I’m supposed to be here, and apparently you are too…and when this constellation appears…”
Buffy jumped up and rooted through the pockets of her jean jacket. “Yes! Willow made me a chart.”
“I’ll bet she did,” Angel said, staring at Buffy intently—this was really real, she was really here. “Got an incantation to go with it?”
“Um yeah, but I’ve got my axe too, just in case.”
“Can’t hurt,” Angel said, and glanced over at his sword—he only had the one now, nicked and dinged, but it did the trick—only sometimes too late.
“So is this what we’re going to do—just wait?” She was pacing and he couldn’t sleep. Angel watched as Buffy did her best to tread the carpet even more threadbare than it already was.
“I hate waiting.”
“I know you do,” Angel said.
“I’m a woman of action,” Buffy raised her hand up forcefully and then let it drop, turning to face him.
Angel had given up on sleep for the time being. Buffy’d dozed off again, but by this time she was fully awake, and big with the questions.
“After I ended up on the Wolfram & Hart hit list, the Powers That Be gave me a deal.”
“And what was that?” She moved closer to him on the bed.
“They gave me a list—places to be, evil to avert—and in exchange, they cloaked me—mystically—from my enemies…and pretty much everyone else.”
“So this whole ‘I’m a regular Joe Schmoe’ disguise thing you’ve got going on isn’t really necessary, huh.” She fingered the faded cotton of his T-shirt as she spoke, then cocked her head, “You’re not cloaked from me—I can see you.”
Angel looked up—she was so close he could feel her breath. “I’m not sure if it would have ever worked on you, Buffy. You’re different—you know that.” Just as she was about to reply, he cleared his throat. “This—here—is the last thing on the list.”
“What happens then?”
“I’m not sure. For all I know, this is where I die.”
“No!” Her voice was urgent and her hands hot on his face as she bridged the gap between them.
Angel looked up and caught her fingers in his, and for a moment time stopped—like it does in the movies or in songs. He could feel a kiss hanging in the air between them—one that had been waiting for years for this chance. But she should know. She should get to make a choice.
His eyes darted back and forth, watching hers as he decided to take the plunge.
“I’ve been lying to you, Buffy.”
“So you’ve been wandering the world and stuff, like Don Quixote.”
“Yes, but with more dignity, and you know, effectiveness.”
“And with Spike,” she thought but did not say. “Well, I only read the Cliff Notes version,” was what actually came out of her mouth.
There was a long pause then, thick molecules of air vibrating between them.
Buffy broke the silence.
“Were you happy together?”
Angel looked startled.
“I was—we were…”
She shifted closer to him and took pity. “It’s OK, Angel. I think I understand.”
Angel shot a grateful look her way.
“He irritated me daily until the night he was dusted.”
Buffy smiled through quiet tears and added, “Me too.”
Angel stared at the wall, counting cracks to keep his voice steady. “He kept me alive, I think.”
Buffy nodded. “Yeah, he was good at that.”
Angel finally slept and his dreams were filled with a montage of battle scenes and things—people—that he’d lost. Darla. Connor. Cordelia. Fred. Wesley. Gunn. Spike.
It was Buffy’s turn to watch, to gaze at his face as he slumbered, fluctuating between pretty and handsome just like she remembered.
She thought about her life. Her work. Satisfactions, daily pleasures, disappointments large and small.
And in the final round up, Buffy found that she couldn’t really reproach him—reproach them—because she’d been OK, her life had been full—often painful—but full.
It was getting close to sunset when Angel woke. Buffy was looking at him eagerly, weapon in hand—clearly ready to go out and fight.
The moon was nearly full and its light beat down on them as they wandered through abandoned streets and alleys. Everything was wide open here and without trees or an excess of buildings, the unobstructed flood of moonlight was the closest Buffy could remember to seeing Angel in full light.
The streets were empty and she was antsy, a strange reaction perhaps to a lack of threat. But when she looked over at Angel, he had the same tension emanating from his body and she thought, “What would we do if we weren’t this?”
It was a question that wasn’t worth answering, so instead she looked up into the night sky and said, “Sheesh, still nothing. Do you think maybe this is a false alarm or something? Or maybe a really elaborate, Powers-That-Be-sponsored blind date?”
“You think?” His mouth quirked.
“It is if you kiss me.”
The kissing alone was almost enough to make her come. Thirsty, drunken kisses—just like her memory, and also not. There was death, and sorrow, as well as other joys, other loves dancing between them. But still, when her tongue tasted his, it was pure love.
Angel + Buffy = 4ever
She’d written it on her notebook in high school, scrawled in purple and silver sparkly gel ink. It was still true, just not the way she’d thought.
Buffy wrapped her legs around Angel as he lowered her onto the bed, digging her heels into his back, but he didn’t seem to mind. He kissed her neck and laved the now-almost-imperceptible scar with his tongue. She shivered and felt her panties flood.
The weight of him was good and she was humming inside, but before Buffy knew it she was laughing and crying all in a jumble, making wet, sloppy mewling sounds. She pulled Angel’s face between her hands and whispered, “I mourned you, you know.”
“I’m sorry, Buffy,” Angel pressed the words into her mouth. “I’m so sorry.”
“It’s OK. ‘Cause this is happening, right? This is real.”
Angel nodded as she pulled his T-shirt over his head, tugging insistently when it got stuck. He emerged rumpled and painfully beautiful, silver chain swinging over his chest. Half-naked so totally wasn’t enough. Ten years plus of waiting compounded in her and Buffy moaned, bit a newly-exposed nipple and marveled at the way Angel let his mouth fall open with eyes closed tight.
She unzipped his fly and hastily pulled him out. She had to take this, gobble up every second of it, because you just…never know. Her eyes were trained on his, glittering green as she fondled him, making him increasingly hard.
“I’ve been thinking about your cock inside me for more than a decade now. I still dream about it at night.”
““That’s not the only thing you dream about,” Angel thought but pushed it aside and kissed her again instead.
“Then let me see you,” he said, hooking his thumbs under her waistband, snapping the buttons on her jeans and pulling them down hard. Buffy kicked off her boots and arched her back to feed him her breasts. Angel’s blunt teeth toyed with a nipple through her shirt while he made short work of her bra. Then he moved back up to whisper in her ear, “I love you, Buffy.”
She sighed and her tears slowed to a trickle. “I want you to fuck me.”
“I can do that.”
She was a fighter just like him, and this time that’s how they made love.
Gasping and bucking (her). Thrusting deep (him).
Clenching and flexing (her). Involuntary orgasmic prayer (him).
The kisses were sweet even as they clung to each other—desperate—pouring not just love but also fear, loss and a thousand moments missed into one another’s bodies.
The changes in her—the scars, the new techniques, the less-than-timid way she feasted herself on his body—didn’t make her any less perfect to him, only more real.
But the fairytale part of this story was over before it began, and only love endures—plus, happiness has more flavor when it’s laced with pain. Makes you stronger and fills those moments in between.
They made love like it was the only time, but hoping that it wouldn’t be.
When she first woke up, Buffy thought she was alone, until she lifted her head off the pillow and saw Angel sitting, blue jean knees splayed and shirtless, on a slowly unraveling wicker chair. He was smoking, looking out the window at the moon, with a cigarette between finger and thumb and for a second that frightened her.
But then he turned his head to look at her and she saw that his eyes were glossy with tears almost-spilled, and she spied the familiar red of the cigarette pack on the fake-wood TV stand—Spike’s brand.
Angel stubbed out the butt wordlessly and came back to her, fumbling at his fly and covering her in smoky kisses.
There was a ghostly third in bed with them that time.
All there was to eat in the vending machine were Cheetos and mixed nuts and Buffy grumbled, sitting cross-legged on the bed in his T-shirt and her panties, tearing open wrapper after wrapper with her teeth.
“I’ve been eating the same thing for more than two and half centuries and do you see me complaining?”
She threw a handful of electric-orange puffs his way but Angel ducked, grabbed her ankles and pulled her down the bed screeching until she erupted in giggles, released herself from his grasp and tossed a leg over his shoulder, giving him the eye.
“Don’t play Big Daddy with me or you might just get burned, Mister.”
Angel kept his face impassive but whispered into her ear, “Don’t test me,” and suckled her earlobe until she throbbed.
This was something strange. This was playful. This was “My prophecy is better than your prophecy!”
But of course it couldn’t last.
Lying on their sides, heads together, in between bouts of fucking and eating and sleeping and re-reading of scrolls.
Buffy told him about traveling through Spain and Portugal with Dawn on her breaks from Uni, about the trials and tribulations of trying to get teenage girls to focus when you’re teaching them kicking techniques, about what it was like for Xander after Anya died. She told him about how Giles adored his children but freaked out when they played too near his rarest books. She told him how she’d learned to knit but still mostly just made scarves—it was relaxing. She even told him about the Watcher she’d almost married but who’d ended up getting back together with his ex. They were still friends. And she told him half the plot of probably a dozen films that he’d somehow managed to miss, being culturally behind a few decades and all.
Angel listened with rapt eyes and periodically interjected with anecdotes about getting lost in the jungle and then discovering that Spike had had the map upside down the whole time. He admitted to singing karaoke for his green friend and shrugged when she teased him about the slightly decreased amount of black in his limited wardrobe. He told her about his favorite demon bar in New York and the bartender who always remembered him even though she shouldn’t
“What do you think happens…?”
“Let’s just get through this part and see. Isn’t that always the way?”
“Yeah, it really always is.”
Buffy was shining up her axe with a hotel wash towel, sitting outside for a breath of fresh air. She looked up into the sky and did a double-take, shuffling her bare feet inside as quickly as she could and shoving on her boots.
Her knees dug into faded paisley bedclothes as she crawled up the bed, ending up straddling Angel and looking down to savor one last moment of him sleeping.
She gripped his face between her hands, ears and cheekbones cold beneath her fingers, and kissed him.
“Wake up, lover, it’s time to be heroes.”
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