Come Back to Me

by Spikesdeb


Chapter 23

It was the smell that set him on edge. Familiar, evocative, old. It wasn't the acrid odour of modern America’s love affair with the combustion engine – no, this was the aroma of his youth, horse manure, coal fires, and filthy streets. His eyes were closed but he knew that when he opened them he would be back in Victorian London. And he had a sneaking suspicion that he knew when.

Slowly, he sat up and hunkered further back into the corner in which he found himself. The sound of jingling harness and carriage wheels over cobbles further confirmed that he was indeed home. His eyes adjusted to the gloom and he blinked, suddenly aware that he was wearing spectacles. Alarmed, he reached up and found ungelled curls falling messily around his face. His hands were soft, the hands of a pampered gentleman, not those of a brawling killer who’d punched and battled his way through the last hundred years or so. He checked himself over; worsted suit, fine linen shirt, waistcoat. Manicured nails.


Patting himself down he found the notebook and pen and glanced at the poem hastily written and slightly smudged where his tears had fallen. /My heart expands/'tis grown a bulge in it/inspired by your beauty, effulgent./

Even though he'd ripped up other scribbles on his way from the party after Cecily crushed his declaration of love, he'd clung to that one unconsciously. He chuckled, it really wasn't ever going to send the critics into raptures. But he’d written from the heart. Hell, everything he did was from the heart. Every gesture, every word throughout his entire existence had sprung from the passion he held in that now long-dead organ. A sudden thought struck him and he tried to vamp out, panicking slightly when he realised that his forehead was still smooth and his fangs absent. With panic came the realisation that his heart was now anything but dead and was beating up a storm.

He definitely knew where he was. He also knew what was to come next.

The rustle of taffeta skirts signalled the arrival of the protaganist in this little farce, but at least this time he knew what to expect. Or did he? What was the point of sending him back in time with all his memories intact? Well, if they thought he was just going to lie back and think of Sunnydale they'd got another thing coming. No, he’d had it with being pushed around by anybody ever again.

"Oi! Dru! Don’t be shy, I know you're there – come out."

Drusilla came stumbling round the corner, dressed exactly as he remembered her, down to the black lace gloves and the cameo brooch at her throat. But she wasn't in charge here, she was different. Way back when, she'd thrust her way into his life and ripped out his throat and his heart with one bite. She’d been so self-assured and calm as she drained his lifeblood and he was helpless to fight against her. Hell, the thought had never even entered his head.

But now it was Drusilla who was lost, he could tell, her hands fluttering to her hair and her throat, her lips working as she muttered to herself. She walked towards him, some of the words she’d spoken so long ago tripping from her tongue before stuttering to a halt. Her eyes met his with no sign of recognition and she stopped a few feet away from him.

After a few moments her mouth curved into a smile and she spoke.

"My Spike! Miss Edith told me you burned up in ashes, but look – here you are!"

"Hello, Princess. Yeah, I'm right here. Do you remember how you got here?"

Drusilla swayed a little, her hands going to her temples as she closed her eyes in concentration.

"Daddy...I was looking for Daddy, and then they tried to kill me. But I escaped...I think...and I knew I could feel you. But this this real? We played this game before, and I won. Are we going to play again?"

Spike snorted, reaching for a cigarette but coming up empty from his poncey clothing. "Yeah, we'll be playing again - but different rules. And I'm not sure I like this game anymore."

"But I remember...effulgent....burning baby sweet, sad poet..."

Dru walked towards him, her lace-covered hand reaching towards him as she cupped his face. Her eyes were glazed, as was so often the case when she was lost in her own mind.

Was this the trial? Simply to live through his turning again? But he had to, didn't he? Because if he didn't, he wouldn't even be around to deal with the Wolfram and Hart problem back in LA in real time. So what the fuck would the Powers want to send him back here for?

"Don't be you want it?"

Did he? The pain of her bite, the loss of his soul as he was reborn a vampire. Once bitten, would he even give a toss about Buffy and Dawn, the Powers That Be? Maybe that was the trial; to not want it, but accept it just the same.

"Hold on, pet. There's a few things need answering before you flash your fangs. Think, Dru. Why are you here?"

"I'm looking for Daddy..."

"Yes, love – I know you were, but why are you here, in this place? Do you know where we are?"

Drusilla looked around her, her demon features receding as she considered his question. The light of recognition dawned in her eyes and she clapped her hands happily.

"I made you, this is where you were born! Oh, Spike – what fun! We can start all over again."

"Yeah. We could. Not sure that's wise though. Look, will you come home with me – god, that sounds strange – and we can work this out." Spike held out his hand, Drusilla eagerly gripping his fingers with her gloved ones. Spike had no idea what he was going to do once he got home, what he would say to his mother, but right now anywhere was better than being in the alley where the whole course of his life had changed.

+ + + +

They made it back to his childhood home without much incident, Drusilla chunnering on at his side and occasionally snapping her teeth at passers-by to frighten them. She was lucid for the most part but it was clear from her ramblings that she had every intention of siring him again and reliving the last hundred-plus years from scratch.

Spike's soul lurched in his chest at that thought. Logically, he knew that this was all just a test and that he had to get back to the real timeline because otherwise the Powers would be left without their precious Angel's cure-all – his blood. But would it make a difference if he went back without his soul? Right now he was human again, beating heart and god given soul intact. Drusilla was going to take all that from him. The last time he woke from her deadly kiss, he’d cared about nothing but fucking and feeding. Knowing what he knew now, would that still happen? Or was he strong enough to lose his soul but keep his promise to Buffy and Dawn?

Buffy. He almost wept; he didn't want to return to her once more as an 'evil soulless thing'. He knew she loved him now, but he really didn't want to have to test her love by losing the one thing she’d always put so much faith in.

He just couldn't think what to do.

He spied the short driveway to his front door and tugged Drusilla along with him, walking up the three steps and pulling on the doorbell. Millie, the family's maidservant, answered the door and bobbed a curtsey as she stood to one side to let her master enter. As an afterthought, Spike turned and whispered an invitation in the vampire's ear just in time to stop her bouncing off the mystical barrier. He should have left her outside, kept his family safe, but letting Dru loose with all of London at her mercy wasn’t an option.

And besides, he figured he needed Dru if he was going to solve the mystery forced on him by the increasingly annoying Powers.

"William! You've been out so late – I was worried. Come, I'll have Millie bring some supper and... have company."

Spike turned, smile wide on his face as he saw his beloved mother framed by gaslight in the doorway. He'd forgotten how beautiful she was, her silver hair swept up in an elegant chignon topped by a square of lace, her dark dress of damask silk neat and smoothed by her pale hands.

"Mother!" He couldn't help himself. He almost ran to her side, wrapping his arms round her and burying his nose in her hair. He'd missed that smell more than anything and to have it surround him again brought back so much. Tears pricked the back of his eyes and he swallowed hard. As far as his mother was concerned, her son had been out to a party with his friends – friends, that was a laugh – and was just a little late coming back. His reaction would be strange to her and he forced himself to let go and take a step back.

She looked at him quizzically, softly smiling at him.

"Mother. May I introduce you to a...a...friend of mine. This is Drusilla. Drusilla, my mother."

"How do you do, dear. Any friend of William's is welcome in this house. Do sit down."

“Pleased to meet you, Spike’s Mum,” Drusilla giggled as she sat on the chaise longue, spreading her skirts around her. "Can I have someone to eat? I'm feeling a mite peckish."

"Oh, my dear! Of course. Millie! Dratted girl...William, be a good boy and summon Millie. Our guest looks half-starved, and so pale!"

Spike was nearly to the door before he realised he was leaving his mother alone with a crazy vampire. He turned to see her sitting alongside Drusilla and admiring the lace of her dress. Damn the proprieties, there was no way he was leaving this room.

"Millie!!!" he bellowed out of the door, his mother gasping at his uncouth actions.

"William, please. A little dignity."

"I'm sorry, mama. I'm a little overwrought tonight."

"No matter. Now tell me all about yourself, dear." His mother was now patting Drusilla's hand and looking eagerly at her ...amber eyes... Spike hurled himself across the room and in between his mother and Drusilla's rapidly descending fangs.

"No! Not gonna happen, Dru."

The snarl intensified but she did as he asked, reluctantly slipping back into human guise and huffing to herself as she sat back in her seat. Once Spike was certain she was cooperating he stepped away, taking his bewildered mother by the hand and leading her out of the room. Millie rushed along the hallway, flustered at the delay between her master's summons and her attendance, and Spike stopped her and asked her to look after her mistress and see her to bed. He murmured good night to his mother, kissing her softly on the cheek and promising that he would explain everything in the morning.

And hoped he would still be around to do it.

+ + + +

Willow knelt beside her stricken friend, taking her in her arms and hugging her tight. She murmured soft words of reassurance and stroked her hair, helpless to do anything else. It wasn't like she could bring Spike back...was it? No, bad Willow thinking that way. This was a test devised by the Powers and any interference would not be appreciated. That way lay black eyes and weird veiny face, and friends that kinda weren't anymore.

Buffy snuffled through her tears and calmed down. "God, I hate it, Will. All I've done since coming here is cry and hurt and die inside a little bit more each day. I want to go home – but then I don't have a home, . It's at the bottom of a crater and everything I knew is gone. Even Mr Gordo..."

Willow smiled, remembering Buffy's stuffed pig. She'd had it since she was a little girl and whenever she slept over she'd bring him along. Willow thought even she'd miss him too - another part of their lost history.

"Buff, I know things are rough but it hasn’t all been bad, has it? Think what you gained by coming here. Spike."

Buffy dried her eyes and smiled. "Yeah, you're right. And instead of moping about here on the floor, I should be beating the crap out of Angel or something, because that's what Spike would do. He'll be back soon anyway. Won't he?"

That was Buffy all over. Hard and brash but with a soft interior. Her final words were spoken in a voice that faltered just a little as she willed herself to believe that Spike would return, and she sought strength and reassurance from her friend as had happened so many times before.

"Didn't I promise you that everything would be fine? He'll be back. Hey, I just figured it out – if he doesn’t come back it means the Powers have set all this up for nothing. No Spike equals no quick fix for Angel. So don't worry, we just have to wait."

Angel's coarse laughter set Buffy's teeth on edge. She got to her feet and stalked across to where he was restrained.

"You've got something to add?"

"Well, it’s you and your little friends making up fairy stories to lift the mood – that’s so cute. I mean it's not like the Powers ever mess around with people is it? For all you know this whole thing was just a big story to put the Slayer off balance. Take your eye off the ball, Buffy, and evil will be having a party on your time. Lover boy’s not coming back so get used to it. He’ll be off having a ball with Dru, slaughtering half of Europe again. And it’ll be just like you never happened."

Buffy's eyes filled despite knowing that this was classic Angel, finding her weak spot and pushing her. She couldn't deal with him properly when she was like this. The last time she'd been subjected to his mind games, when she had him cornered in the mall, she’d had a stake inches from his chest and couldn't bring herself to dust him. There’d been weeks of his toying with her friends and her mom before she was ready to see an end to him, and it had taken the death of Jenny Calendar and the pain of her grieving watcher to get her that far. And she’d do it again, but first she had to even out her emotions.

"Think what you like, Angel. I’m past caring. Keep spouting the crapola too – you obviously love the sound of your own voice. I'm not the one tied up and helpless, waiting for my fate to be decided for me. I'm going to go sit with my sister and think about the best way to make you pay for daring to hurt her. Because no matter what happens here, you’ll still have that to answer for."

Buffy turned on her heel, ignoring the sneer on Angel's face, and headed back to Dawn's room, asking Willow to come for her immediately if Spike came back or they learned anything. Wes and Giles were deep in the texts again, while Faith and Gunn were letting off steam with some gentle sparring.

Willow chanted softly to reinforce the bonds that kept Angel secured, her mind drifting as she let the soft flow of magic soothe her. Odd how the very thing that had once had her manic and out of control was such a comfort to her now. It was all a matter of perspective, realising that you didn't own the magic, you borrowed it and had to give back as much as you took. Once that acceptance was lodged deep in your very bones, you became part of the natural cycle. And things that weren't in their right balance jarred your senses: like Angel.

Willow’s natural inclination was to like everybody unless a reason not to came up. Angel had tried to kill her, it was true, but that was as Angelus. She was trying to keep the two separate, but Spike's comments on there being no real distinction had really nagged at her brain and she was finding it increasingly easy to see how cruel Angel, as well as Angelus, could be. Either way, she didn't really like him, putting aside any general observations on vampires... which had been blown out of the water since Spike had broken the mould. Given the choice, she wouldn't be within fifty feet of him in either incarnation.

So what the hell the Powers had found to be so special in him was a complete mystery. He'd had other chances at redemption and blown them and just when a good staking would be what he deserved in her opinion, the Powers drag in a souled and definitely valiant vampire warrior who had saved the world, and force him to possibly sacrifice himself – and coincidentally her friend's happiness – so that Angel could be the pin-up boy of the gods. It went completely against all logic.

Chant over, Willow plonked herself down next to Cordelia and pouted. Whatever happened to the simple life, when Buffy, Xander and herself would hang out and giggle, playing the 'anywhere but here' game? Those days seemed an eternity ago.

Xander. Her heart hurt so much when she thought about him. Had anybody even checked on him since his encounter with Spike in the corridor? There hadn’t been time to process his betrayal of them all to Angel but it cut deep. And yet, she still loved him. It mattered to her that he was alright.

"Penny for them."

"Huh? Oh, yeah – just thinking about Xander. Maybe somebody should see if he’s okay."

Cordy nodded sagely, her serenity still freaking Willow, who was still expecting Cordy the hyped-up Uber bitch. "Good idea. Go, I'll get in touch if anything happens."

Willow nodded, grateful for the distraction. Waiting around was hard. "Yeah, I think I will. If nothing else, we need to know he isn't messing things up for us. But you'll get me? If Spike...or anything happens?"

The witch jumped as Cordy replied that she would, her voice clear inside her head. Now she got why Xander and Buffy were always so freaked about it! It was kind of invasive, like a telephone call that couldn’t be ignored. Calming down, she thanked Cordelia the same way, the two girls giggling at their shared gifts.

"A bonus gift from the Powers to compensate for the splitting headaches." Cordy filled in the answer to Willow's unspoken question. "I think it's neat but I don't use it much. It spooks people when they catch on."

"I know, I get that too. But at least we can keep in touch. I'll be back soon, but anything at all..."

"I promise."

+ + + +

"No, Dru, you can't eat my mum. I'll get Millie to find some blood from somewhere, and heat it up. That'll have to do."

"But, Spike – you ate her...or you eat her...I can't remember. Wasn’t she very tasty?"

Spike's jaw tightened as she reminded him of one of his most painful memories. He didn't really want to go there again.

"Enough, Dru. No eating my mum, that's final."

She pouted, but it wasn't a patch on one of the Slayer's. He contemplated exactly what Drusilla meant to him now. He did love her, he had to admit that. He loved her as his sire and his teacher, his deliverer from mediocrity. But more than that? No. He was completely in love with Buffy, and the feelings he had for her were stronger and deeper than any he'd ever had for Drusilla. He'd been grateful to her and reliant on her for everything at first and that had forged a bond between them. But if he'd known love could be like that he shared with Buffy, he'd never have remained so devoted to the often cruel and capricious vampire. She was family to him, but the love of his life? She was blonde and petite with a killer right hook.

"Promise you'll stay right here, Princess, while I fetch you some dinner? Be good for Spike?"

Dru looked away from him, her arms folded.

"I'll take that as a yes. Don't move or...I'll have to tell daddy you've been naughty."

That got her attention. "I'll be good. If I'm good, do you think he'll give me a spanking? Ooh, chop chop, I'm hungry!" She waved him off with a flick of her hand, her smile wide as she no doubt imagined what her daddy's attentions would be.

Spike left her strolling around the room talking to the plants in hushed whispers, and headed to the kitchens in search of a meal for himself and his sire. There was always a supply of blood on hand to make up the black puddings and sausages that cook took great pride in. Not sure she'd approve of the use he'd put her ingredient to but it was better than the cook herself being the main course. He quickened his pace as he realised that his own meal would be far more interesting. Beating heart equals fully human biology and human food. Whilst he did eat human food anyway, vampire taste buds weren’t a patch on his human ones and he was going to make the most of them. There might be a spicy game pie or some Stilton on a shelf in the larder, or some real bread, maybe a rice pudding or a blancmange too. Made him giddy thinking about it!

After gorging himself from every dish he could find, including the much yearned for game pie, he wiped his mouth of crumbs and made his way back to the drawing room with a pitcher of warmed blood.

To find Drusilla still as death and Cordelia sitting next to her on the sofa.