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Heading North By Northeast (PG)

Title Heading North by Northeast
Author Brutti ma buoni
Words 950
Warnings fleeting mention of infidelity
Setting Long-post-series council fic (not a part of my Rulesverse)
Rating PG
Prompt Half a Map on a Hostel Wall

“So this probably isn’t a thing,” says Dawn, and the whole Council’s hackles rise visibly. “We just found- Well, I don’t even know what Cailin was doing in Penang, but she saw this, and-“

And Dawn doesn’t bring this kind of thing to Council without it passing through the hands of manifold experts in ancient scripts, lore, forgery, the lot. Which means-

“What are we thinking?” Xander is the first to speak. Often is, these days. The boy’s grown into a responsible adult, and who could be more surprised over that than Spike? “Ancient mystical whoosit of the good variety? Or, more likely, bad? New species, demon raising- I mean,” he winds down. “It’s just a map.”

Giles’s voice has breaks in it now. His lungs aren’t too clever, after three or four too many potion experiments failed on him. Cuts down his narrative powers, somewhat, though not to the level most would consider normal. He manages enough, though, to leave them glazed with dense fact, finishing, “-so this must be investigated. It could be of great benefit, you know. But we have only half the map, and who knows who might have the other? Penang has seen more than its share of demons and a Wolfram and Hart office too. It’s troubling.” Leave alone the unresolved question of why a map of Svalbard should be in Penang, which nobody cares to bet on. (If they were betting, Spike would say that the map dates from the days of great endeavour and exploration, and there’s nothing ever stopped those guys from going north, and east, in their lives. Maybe it’s been there, waiting, for centuries, till someone bought it cheap and thought it’d give the requisite air of mystery to a student dormroom. Maybe.)

Buffy says, “Guys, it could be nothing, or it could be a lot, we know that. It needs a special team, so much is obvious. Independent, prepared for anything. Preferably not too bothered by the cold.” No shit. A mission in Svalbard in late October is not a prize, and unless they get this done fast, it won’t remain October for the fun parts. Yikes. “And, you know, I’ve been itchy. I’d like to lead on this, okay?”

Nobody’s going to deny that request. Not to the greatest of the Slayers, who’s crawled back to Council bosoms and licked her wounds for long enough, it seems. Divorce is a fucker of a thing, frankly. Not that Spike didn’t ill-wish their union and warn her enough times it was going to collapse. And he was right, but that was seventeen years, two kids and one stoically heartbroken Buffy later, which one might call delayed gratification if he felt even slightly gratified about anything in this situation apart from having the Slayer back with them where she belongs.

She’s too thin, and needs to up her conditioning, but she knows that too well, and they’ve been working together mornings ever since Buffy came back to the Council. Four months in, she’s certainly field ready, and can hurl Spike clear across the gym when she bothers, which is heartwarming. Though he knows she can do more, and she will.

The Council chamber is quiet, for some reason, and after a bit Spike realises it’s because Buffy’s just looking at him, brows raised, inviting. Special team… of two, maybe? Is that what she has in mind?

“I’ll go,” he says, quickly, not sure if he’s answering a question he missed or volunteering out of blue sky, but happy enough either way. Blessed darkness falling on the Arctic Circle after the equinox and he’s likely to be more useful than and fluffy little warm-blood she can have along.

And the invitation means, of course, that she’s open to him again. More than training. Not a surprise, really. They’ve fallen in together more than once since she officially swore off him, in the heat of unsuitable combat situations. She’s never obviously regretted falling off her pedestal, so long as it’s Spike she landed on. Like she accepts, somewhere deep, that they fit. And he’s never fully looked away from Buffy Summers. Likely never will.

There should be adrenalin for the situation, and neurons sparking as he plans his part in this quest, or fight, or whatever it turns out to be, in the dark lands, where the white bears roam looking for tasty human snacks. And where they may find enemies and mortal danger, or save the world, or spend three months freezing their arses off to no purpose and return with only a handful of airport-bought reindeer meat treats to show for it. Frankly, he doesn’t bloody care how it goes down, only that it does, him and Buffy together against the world (whatever that may be this time).

“Need some decent blood before I go,” is all he says, “And stock me up on smokes and Jack. We’ll need warmth of all kinds.” It makes the Council scoff, of course, as he intended. Good old Spike, the tamed vampire. Keep him happy with his treats and watch him jump through our hoops. And he does. Has done for thirty years. But only because of this girl. Woman. Slayer. And she wants him by her side again, so he’s going.

Buffy relaxes down in her seat, next to Spike, the way she always is in the Council these days. “I’m so glad,” is all she says. No promises. No regrets. No talk of the mechanics of organising her former life into supporting a distant mission, though he can tell she’s working it out for herself already. Just him, and Buffy, against the world, and glad of it.


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 11th, 2014 05:20 pm (UTC)
This is terrific - such a believable tale. Spike's finally learned patience... and it's paid off.

May. 11th, 2014 06:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much!
May. 11th, 2014 05:54 pm (UTC)
Buffy coming back to The Council's bosom after a failed marriage (but, really, seventeen years and two kids is a pretty good run) is a bit sad but understandable. She's surrounded by her family and that's what you want when your heart is healing.

I love this: She’s never obviously regretted falling off her pedestal, so long as it’s Spike she landed on. Like she accepts, somewhere deep, that they fit. And he’s never fully looked away from Buffy Summers. Likely never will. After decades together, Spike really is a soft place to land and I love the idea of these two off on an Arctic Circle adventure together.
May. 11th, 2014 06:08 pm (UTC)
I have a whole rough backstory to this - of Buffy slowly moving away from the Council as her marriage grows, and eventually kids come along and so on, so she hasn't been completely absent most of the time. But enough to leave the others a little distanced. Not Spike, though.
May. 11th, 2014 08:39 pm (UTC)
Oooh this. I love it. I really like that line about her being okay with falling off her pedestal if she lands on Spike.
May. 12th, 2014 07:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I feel like greying up the characters somewhat, in a number of ways.
May. 12th, 2014 12:56 am (UTC)
I find it very satisfying to read this Spike's perspective: someone whose wants are, not easy, but simple. Him and Buffy against the world, some smokes, some whiskey. Obtainable wants, and endearing ones.
May. 12th, 2014 04:30 am (UTC)
“So this probably isn’t a thing,” says Dawn, and the whole Council’s hackles rise visibly.

Heh. This first line is quite perfect. The breezy Buffyverse, wherein everybody knows that the moment you say something isn't important, it blows up in your face.

I love the whole thing, of course. And the idea of Svalbard is very evocative as a questing place. I have it on good authority that it is illegal there to leave town without being armed against bears. That's the kind of place that would challenge even the dream team of Buffy/Spike!
May. 12th, 2014 07:48 pm (UTC)
Svalbard is one of those places, isn't it? Just mythic, all on its own.

I'm glad to be back and ficletting, I must say. Been a long time since one just wrote itself in a single sitting.
May. 12th, 2014 09:35 am (UTC)
This is terrific! But I am a little confused concerning the time line. Spike has been working for the council for 30 years so all of the scoobies would be in their early 50s at least? That would make them all more than adult by now, right? I guess I'm surprised that they are all still around and almost acting like they always have. Or have I misunderstood something?

But I still love this and would so like to read prequels and or sequels :)
May. 12th, 2014 07:54 pm (UTC)

Yes, the Council are in their late 40s mostly, if not older (and Giles should be well retired). The fact they aren't maybe tells you something. And the fact they haven't changed in their voices all that much, also tells you something. Maybe about why Buffy wanted to get away.

(Though tbh the people I work with are that sort of age and not noticeably mature in their vocab, which may be influencing my portrayal *g*)
May. 12th, 2014 11:37 am (UTC)
I like this. I would like to read a sequel. The idea is interesting and I love how believable it sounds. I'm kinda curious to know who the ex-husband would be, but mostly Spuffy after all these years seems really exciting. So much to explore and so much still left unsaid, maybe. I love how they keep falling into each other.
May. 12th, 2014 08:42 pm (UTC)
The ex is Someone Else. As in not canon. Buffy making her way out of the Council, and right back in again, in the end. So, in the end, back to Spike.
May. 15th, 2014 01:30 am (UTC)
What a lovely, hopeful poignant look at this future where they didn't (at least initially) live happily ever after.
Love this: She’s never obviously regretted falling off her pedestal, so long as it’s Spike she landed on. Like she accepts, somewhere deep, that they fit. And he’s never fully looked away from Buffy Summers. Likely never will.
and this:Just him, and Buffy, against the world, and glad of it.

May. 15th, 2014 07:20 pm (UTC)
lol, I realised later (too late) that I've basically said Spike just stared at Buffy while she fell on him, which is a weird visual, if a nice sentiment! But I'm glad you caught what I was originally hoping you would from that idea.
May. 15th, 2014 08:19 pm (UTC)
LOL - never even noticed it. (not something for an editor to miss. glad I wasn't getting paid for reading it.:) )
May. 15th, 2014 08:15 am (UTC)

Also, sorry for inadequate f/b. Brain fried.
May. 15th, 2014 07:22 pm (UTC)
All feedback welcome. Well, the nice stuff. This definitely counts. :)
May. 24th, 2014 09:26 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed this. Sorry for the delayed comment.
May. 27th, 2014 09:20 am (UTC)
What an interesting verse! I'm not sure if I'm more fascinated by the backstory (I can easily buy Buffy trying again for normal) or by the idea of a trip to Svalbard of all places!
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )


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