How to Treat Your
Santa Barbara, Ellwood Bluffs, Night
Buffy sat on the edge of the bluff looking out over the ocean while she waited for Angel to arrive. The taxi had dropped her off a half hour ago. She had walked out on her friends and watcher the second she heard from Angel. He said he wanted to see her. Willow had told her that he and Spike were living in L.A. together. She didn’t know how to feel about that.
When bright headlights pulled up behind her, she stood up and faced them. Seconds later, Spike’s Desoto skidded to a stop in a spray of gravel beside the Plymouth. Spike jumped out of the car and stalked around the convertible angrily.
“What the bloody hell is going through your head, you bastard!” Spike yelled at Angel who was climbing out of the car. “You just recovered from being possessed by that thing and you drove all the way here for what, to see some bint? I know how this meeting will end and you’re a heartless bastard.”
“I explained this to you when we left the hotel. I have to see her, Spike. I have to know she’s okay. She’s back from the dead for chrissake!”
“This is Darla all over again! Remember when your buddies at Wolfram & Hart brought her back? You spent all your time obsessing over her and now --”
“I’m not obsessing over Buffy!” Angel yelled back.
“No, you’re just back to playing her lap dog, answering her beck and call,” Spike sneered. “The very minute Cordy told you she was alive you couldn’t leave the hotel fast enough. I was driving ninety on the freeway just to see your taillights!”
“Spike!” Angel growled.
Buffy cleared her throat. “Hey, what’s the big argument about?”
No one answered. Spike glared at Angel silently, daring him to say something. Angel stared back, silently begging Spike to understand what he was doing, but it didn’t seem to be working. He knew his boy was pissed. He had called Buffy when he got inside the hotel and set up a time to meet with her. He and Spike argued about what Angel’s real motives were after that. Then, Spike found another room to sleep in, separating them for the first time in months.
“You really are a soulless son of a bitch,” Spike hissed. “After all we went through together in L.A. You literally begged me to go back with you. I was so close to forgiving you . . . so close!”
“Well, it’s good you didn’t then, ’cause you need to go back with her,” Angel said, angry at himself and hurt that Spike didn’t trust him to do this.
“Fuck you, Angel!” Spike said angrily. “Say what you got to say to the true love of your life!”
“I am!” Angel roared. He’d gone past being angry at himself and was now annoyed with Spike. “We have an eternity to be together! Buffy has a normal life span, and much shorter for being a slayer than normal. We have to protect her!”
Spike gestured between them angrily. “There’s no we, Angel! There’s you telling me that I have to leave the mirage of a life you dangled in front of me in L.A. and go back to something miserable, just so you have a clear conscience!”
“Do you think I wanted to be physically separated from you? I wasn’t the one that grabbed a blanket and found another room to sleep in last night!” Angel yelled, unnoticed tears tracking down his face.
“No, you’ll just put miles between us. You could’ve found me last night. I was in the same hotel! But NO! Now, you want me to go with her, protect your ‘love’, stay with the Scoobies, who I never connected with?”
Buffy tilted her head, watching the argument as if it were on television and not right in front of her. Being away so long hadn’t prepared her for the sight of Angel angry and crying over Spike. Wasn’t he supposed to be angry that Willow brought her back against her will? Maybe Angel met her here, bringing Spike with him so that he could say goodbye again?
“A normal life span?” Spike was asking incredulously. “Buffy doesn’t have a normal life let alone a span of it! That witch will just bring her back again! HEY, maybe we can enroll her as a sideshow freak: the super girl that can never die because her friends won’t allow her to rest in peace!”
“So, are you arguing for or against her being back!?” Angel yelled.
“I don’t care where she is! I’m being practical and stating a fact. Apparently, what I want in this relationship doesn’t matter!” Spike shouted. Now, his cheeks were wet with his own unnoticed tears.
“She needs someone there to talk to, Spike. She crawled up out of her own grave! Who knows what that’s like better than us!” Angel tried to drive the point home.
Buffy stood there watching them argue over her with disembodied interest. She still wasn’t quite used to being alive yet. Angel was saying that she needed someone there to help her and Spike was refusing to be that person. Not that it meant anything to her right now.
Spike expression turned to a look of devastation as he stared at the demon who had been his lover for nearly three years. Angel watched the look with anguish. He expected Spike to be upset and to fight with him, but that look nearly crushed him. Then, it was replaced with one of resentment and what could only be described as disgust.
“Why didn’t you leave me to hate you? I made that into a favorite pastime! I’ve hated you from the moment you left me. Then, you came back with all this talk of want and need, when all you wanted was a fucking babysitter! Then it was: oh no, I really want you! After all we had, you would send back to her!”
“It’s not like that, Spike!” Angel insisted as he moved closer.
Spike shuffled backwards, nearly tripping over a rut in the ground. “No! I may be love’s bitch, but enough is enough. What I do now, I do for myself!”
“We’re mated, wherever you go, I’ll be there too,” Angel stated.
“Funny how you conveniently remember that when it suits you. When it’s about something you want! I don’t want some mind control games, Angel. I want the physical you. If I can’t get that, then this is it,” Spike slashed his hand through the air for emphasis. “The end. You send me back with her, I’m on my own.”
Angel stalked Spike and grabbed his arms to keep him from bolting. “I will always be there. Beyond. Dust. Spike. Nothing will change that.”
The blonde vampire shrugged his Sire’s hands away, a heartbroken expression flittering across his face before it disappeared a second later. Angel wondered if he saw it at all. “If you want to believe that, fine, but I can’t afford to, not when I’m faced with your actions of late.” Spike turned away, heading for the Desoto. “You got five minutes, Slayer. Go talk to your boyfriend, get whatever it is out of your system and get in the car. Otherwise, I’ll leave you here to hitchhike back to Sunnydale.”
Angel watched Spike stomp back to the Desoto, get in and slam the door. He sighed dejectedly. He had to fix this some way, but didn’t know how. With shoulders slumped, he walked over to Buffy to finally talk to her.
“Hi,” he said softly, unsure of what to say to her. ‘How was coming back from the dead for you, ’cause it was a real blast for me’ didn’t sound like a great opener.
“Hey,” Buffy stammered. “So, Spike’s been with you for the whole time I’ve been away?” She shifted uneasily, waving her hands for emphasis. “I know I was dead and everything, but didn’t you spend any time mourning me at all?”
“Of course I did. Spike even mourned you in his own way,” Angel replied. “We went on a retreat, met some monks – okay, so they were demons and we had to kill them – but, it was supposed to be spiritual.”
“So you went on this spiritual retreat because you were so upset that I died – and took Spike with you?” Buffy’s question sounded more like an accusation.
Angel’s brow furrowed in confusion. He didn’t know what the big deal was. There was no reason he could think of that he wouldn’t have taken his childe and mate with him. “I don’t understand Buffy. What was wrong in taking Spike with me?”
Buffy looked hurt by his words. Angel was the love of her life and he didn’t understand why she was so upset that he had Spike around while he was supposed to be mourning his loss. They were supposed to be like Romeo and Juliet. Like Anthony and Cleopatra, if the history she got out of that was correct, or Rhett and Scarlet. Yet, the moment she was gone, he went with Spike.
Buffy threw herself at Angel, crying hysterically as she pummeled his chest, ineffectually. He stood his ground, letting her use him as a punching bag, rocking back when she got a good punch in. Maybe if he let her do this, she’d get it out of her system and punish himself for what he had done to make Spike walk away from him.
“You were supposed to be mourning me!” she cried pitifully. “You weren’t supposed to go on a spiritual retreat with your . . . whatever Spike is to you.” Her angry outburst ran out of steam and she fell to her knees at Angel’s feet, crying. “You haven’t even asked how I am, where I was or how it feels to be back.”
Angel stood looking down at her bowed head, listening to her sobs. He was at a loss for what to say to her. He’d spent so much time with Spike’s sarcastic humor that he forgot how emotional Buffy was. The melodrama of their affair always left him feeling unable to cope. A tick developed in his jaw. He didn’t know whether to break down with her or . . . what? Spike had become his priority, even before she died. As much as he cared for her, wanted her to live a long life, he couldn’t just pick up their relationship as if his commitment to Spike never happened.
“You didn’t give me a chance,” Angel said softly.
Buffy struggled to her feet and started towards the Desoto. “That’s right, and why do I feel like you wouldn’t care? Go back to you mission in L.A., Angel.” It was a scathing comment and Angel felt the harshness of it, like acid down his spine. “I will go back to Sunnydale with Spike. After all, that’s why I was brought back, to protect the Hellmouth.”
Angel looked at her slumped back. He wanted to follow her. Reach a hand out to comfort her and tell her things were going to be okay. He knew something was wrong. Deep inside, he knew that even if he found out what it was, he couldn’t do anything else for her. He was already sending Spike out of his life for who knew how long. He thought he was doing the best he could for Buffy, even sacrificing Spike and his own feelings to help her. He couldn’t do more. He knew that. There was no way he could go Sunnydale himself. He had responsibilities back home.
Angel walked to his car and opened the door, watching as Spike spun out backing up and drove away. He sighed heavily as he got behind the wheel, started the car and drove away in the opposite direction. He had an hour and a half to decide what he was going to tell his team when he showed up sans Spike.
Spike drove back to Sunnydale. One hand gripped the wheel in aggravation and the other propped up on the edge of door. Every so often he would glance over at Buffy. Her head was turned, looking out the window or
down at her hands. She was just another woman to come between him and his Sire and she sat there looking blameless. That thought made Spike grip the wheel until his knuckles ached.
Spike broke the silence twenty minutes later. “I’m treating this like one of Cordelia’s visions. This is just another job to me. Once Angel deems you fit to be on your own, I’m gone.”
“I don’t want to be in your life any more than you want to be in mine,” Buffy said as she continued to stare out the window.
“Then, we’re agreed,” Spike said with a tone of finality as he returned his attention to the road.