Title: The Other Side of the World
Summary: Spike has one more mission to fulfill.
Rating: PG - Nothing objectionable
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel the Series
Spoilers: All of Buffy and Angel
Word Count: Around 2,200
Original Title: … and Constantinople
Author of original story: tobywolf13
URL of original story: ... and Constantinople
Thanks to my betas in waiting (as usual) mommanerd and spiralleds. You're the best.
“Shadow,” Spike muttered as he sauntered down the street just past sunset. “That’s what I’ve been. A bloody shadow.”
He was getting to the point where a fight would’ve suited him just about fine. Anything to get rid of all the pent up anxiousness that was building like a pregnant, rain-filled gray cloud just b’fore a storm. Well, at least his hangover had let up a bit. Just a bit. The pounding headache he’d been experiencing for the past couple of days was enough to make a vampire want to go out and bloody sun himself.
Witch’s teleportation spell didn’t help either. The pounding in his head could as easy be from the Cuervo, a souvenir he allowed himself. But now it didn’t matter. His mission was almost complete. All he had to do was wait for her lovely little arse to show and this aimless wandering around was about to come to an end. Then he could move on to someplace that wasn’t here. But this time he’d go of his own accord. No more of that beam me up Star Trek nonsense.
The witch came through loud and clear.
“Spike! I’ve found him.”
Earlier, her voice had been booming while he slept. The fact that he had been so startled that he’d fallen off the uncomfortable bunk and onto the hard floor, cursing more than just booze and magic, didn’t help matters either. Their search had narrowed down to Istanbul, and now he was scrambling down back streets and alleyways, following detailed directions issued by a perky little voice in his head.
Oi! Not again. Voices in his head? Never a good thing. Besides bringing back memories of times not too pleasant, it made his aching brain rattle like a loose-paned window in the wind. At least the repetitiveness of telepathy got him to stop answering out loud.
”What love?” he asked.
“Sorry about the head thing, but I got him. Next corner. Go left. The coffee place. Go!”
“You know for sure?” he asked.
“Yes. Now, go,” she said. “I’m on my way.”
The question of why she couldn’t have done the blasted searching herself was the first thing he’d asked, but Willow was busy being on a different plane and not able to leave straightaway, which sounded like as good a reason as any to his alcohol-soaked grey matter.
Rounding the next corner, he could smell the Türk kahvesi and pungent smoke before he saw the coffeehouse. ÇAY, the Turkish version of a dark tea, was one of Spike’s favorites. The coffee? He could take it or leave it. Maybe his dislike for the stuff stemmed from his past. Fortune-tellers would turn the coffee cup over on the saucer, lift the cup, and read the future in the sloppy grounds. Spike never got the chance to hear about his future because Angelus and his torturous ways never let the fortune-telling bird live long enough to fill ‘im in.
Where did Spike fit on that list? Oh yeah. Nowhere. He had not only lost Angel, but he’d lost Buffy again. So why not spend the better part of the last year pissed on tequila in Mexico and getting reacquainted with the dark-haired, soft-skinned señorítas? A bloke needed a hobby, didn’t he?
As for the wild wolf chase, Spike suspected that through the Scooby grapevine Red had heard what’d happened. She probably figured that running this little errand for her was a better way for Spike to spend his time instead of pining away for the Slayer in some tiki hut in Mexico. Not that they had tiki hugs in Mexico. He was doing a favor for a friend. That was all well and good, but he was getting antsy and bored. Not a good combination for the likes of him.
The coffeehouse sat in the middle of the Grand Bazaar, the surrounding shops brimming with antiques, textiles, brassware, copper, clothing, gold and silver. Further down, he was greeted with hand-painted ceramics, leather, fur, and suede. His gaze rested on a long, black leather trench coat. Memories that were better left buried in the bottom of a crater on the other side of the world came rushing back.
As he ducked into the doorway of the coffeehouse, he was greeted by a black wet erase board. Written out in fluorescent colors were the various ways one could order coffee.
Sade - plain, no sugar
Az sekerli - a little sugar
Orta sekerli - medium sugar
Çok sekerli - lots of sugar
Coffee was still a way of life here. That, he was quite sure, would never change. Maybe he’d even take the time to get his coffee grounds read this time around, since there was no one to stop him. He was in no hurry and he had no place to go once he had finished his task.
There, sitting in the back corner, was the person he needed to find. Oz was slowly sipping his coffee and staring at the full moon. Spike could only imagine what he was thinking. Bloke probably hated the moon as much as Spike hated the sun. Hated it, craved it, and could feel it on his skin all at the same time.
“Spike. Thought you were dead.”
“Didn’t stick. Mind if I sit a spell, mate?”
Spike dropped down, pushed back, and balanced the chair on its back legs. He motioned for service and ordered a cup of tea. At the last minute he changed his order to coffee.
They sat in a not totally uncomfortable silence before Oz asked, "So, what brings you here?"
Spike took a deep swig of his coffee and grimaced. After doctoring it with a good dose from the golden flask he kept in his pocket he said, “Don’t rightly know."
“Really?" Oz asked. “Alone?”
“Heard you got your li’l problem under control though,” Spike said. "Some monk in Tibet. Big old white ball in the sky no longer an issue for you."
“Meditation. It works. Too bad about that whole sun thing for you. Meditation’s not an option.”
“No. Guess not.” He shrugged his shoulders and took another sip of his coffee. It didn’t taste as bad the second time. Something to be said for tequila. “Oh, and about trying to eat Willow that one time in her dorm room? Sorry 'bout that.”
Spike wasn’t sure why he admitted to the Willow thing. It hit a little to close to the reason why he was really in Istanbul, and besides he didn’t even know if wolfboy knew about that little incident. Wasn’t something Spike bragged about. Vampire impotence. Not a favorite topic of his and it seemed so long ago. The chip had been the thing that stopped him, hadn’t it? Spike didn’t like to think about that too much. What if he hadn’t been chipped? What would he have done to Willow? Would he have stopped regardless because he was kind of fond of her?
“It's ok. I did worse to her," Oz said, his facial expression not changing,
Spike wanted to tell him that was his reason for being there, but decided it was a bit premature to tip that information. “We all hurt the ones we love at some point or another, I reckon.”
“Last I heard you were in L.A. with Angel,” Oz said.
“Prat finally got what he was looking for all along. Snatched the bleeding brass ring, hot-footed it out of L.A., leaving me to fend for m’self, I might add, and headed straight to sunny Rome," Spike said.
“Slayer central and the Slayer.” He couldn’t bring himself to speak her name. Whenever he tried, it was like pouring salt on an open wound. It stung and the pain would linger until it was washed clean again. He took another swig of his coffee and then topped the cup off with more tequila.
"So that’s why you're here?" Oz asked. “Because he’s there?”
"Here’s not as bad as some heres.”
Spike was never a big fan of the nomad lifestyle, but he guessed it made being alone easier. Alone was Oz’s thing. Even Spike sometimes needed to be alone in order to dwell on his own dark contemplations.
“True,” Oz said. “Here’s not so bad.”
Once Angel had left L.A., Spike didn’t see much reason to stay, so he traveled. No one had been more surprised than he was when Willow found him in Mexico and asked for a favor. Even with all that nonsense, he felt bad lying to the bloke. Not that it was Spike’s choice and in the long run it was for the greater good and all that. Besides, he’d made a promise to a lady that he planned on keeping. That’s what he did - kept promises.
“Everyone deserves a second chance,” Spike said, and then heaved a sigh of relief because he didn’t have to continue the charade any longer. The girl’s timing was right on. He tipped his head to Oz’s left. “Even you.”
“Willow,” Oz said. “You’re here, and not there.”
She rushed toward Oz and they hugged. “Sorry it took so long,” she said. “The whole ‘vampire can only travel by night’ thing? Big damper. Add that to the other thing? Jeez! I’m surprised I’m even here now.”
“So you finished what you needed to finish?” Oz said.
“It took little time and lots of convincing, but yeah. I did,” she said.
It dawned on Spike that something about this situation didn’t ring true. “Wait a bloody minute,” he said, standing. “What do you mean ‘sorry it took so long’?”
Willow turned toward him. “Don’t be mad, Spike, but I kind of mislead you.” She indicated Oz and herself with a sweep of her hand. “We kind of mislead to you.”
“I was waiting for you,” Oz said. “Not the other way around.”
“You what? Why? You two haven’t seen each other in years. Big breakup. Tears all around,” Spike said.
“Not so many years.” Oz shrugged his shoulders.
“Red’s into girls now, too, or did we forget that little fact?” Spike asked.
Willow stepped closer to Spike. “Oz and I have been talking, and yes, still gay or maybe bi.” Her face looked thoughtful for a moment. “Definitely bi, but that’s not the point. This isn’t about me and Oz.”
“Nope,” Oz said.
“Someone care to tell me what the soddin’ hell this is about then? I haven’t traipsed all over hell and back for some trick have I?”
“We knew you’d never agree to it if you knew the truth,” Willow said. “Oz was the bait.”
“Ironic, yet effective,” Oz added.
“We needed to bring you someplace new,” Willow continued. “Anywhere. Somewhere. A place you’d least expect what was about to happen.” She smiled. “And Oz likes it here and he wanted me to see it.”
The more she talked, the more confused Spike got. “You two a couple then?”
“No!” Willow said. “We’re friends.”
The thing was, Spike felt a little foolish for the entire set up. Curious even, but mostly he was impressed. Quite impressed actually. Amazed that the two of them had pulled it off without him knowing what they were up to. A question remained.
“What’s this all about, Red?”
“You said it yourself,” Oz told him. “Everyone deserves a second chance, man. That includes you.”
Willow appeared to pause for a second and then said, “It’s time for us to go.” She gave Spike a hug. “It’ll all make sense. Trust me.”
“Okay…?” Spike said. “It’ll all make sense. When will it bloody all make sense?”
“Soon,” Oz said.
Before Spike could object any further they turned and walked away. All he could do was stand there wide-eyed and slack-jawed. What in bloody hell…?
He sat down at the table, staring vacantly at his cup and the remaining grounds. He flipped the cup over, dumping the wet, clump onto the saucer. If his future was in there somewhere why couldn’t he see it?
“Coffee grounds? Can I tell you your future?”
And just like that everything began to click into place, like tumblers in a lock. Still, he was afraid to look up. It was an illusion. It had to be.
“Are you really here?” he asked.
“What do you think?”
“Buffy?” he said, standing and tripping over the chair as he moved toward her. “Why are you here? You aren’t supposed to be here.”
"Oz told Willow that the coffee here was pretty good." She pointed at the saucer full of coffee grounds. “Can I tell you your future?”
“No. That’s all right, pet. I think I’ve already seen a glimpse.”
“You’re not mad that Willow, Oz, and I tricked you?” Buffy asked. She looked as though she wanted to reach out to him, but changed her mind at the last minute.
“How could I be mad?” He reached out for her instead. “You’re here.”
“I would have been here sooner, but I-- Willow convinced me.”
“Care to explain?”
“How much time do you have?”
“Vampire, love. How long do you need?”
The light in her eyes and the smile that spread across her lips told him all he really needed to know.
Spike felt the fool no longer.