Chapter Rating: PG13
"Sure you want to leave her behind, man?"
Spike smiled to himself as he flipped through the stack of bills. The words
of the DeSoto's new owner filtered back into his head as he and Anya walked
down the path to the charter company's hanger. The door he'd slammed shut--you
always had to slam those doors shut, they weighed a ton--gave a definite
It was a small smile, but something about it made him feel good. In the midst
of his paralyzing worry and a growing realization, even the smallest positive
was something to latch onto.
The sign rising above them made him stop in his tracks. Spike stared at it,
at the plane beyond, then turned to his companion. "I'm not riding on anything
flown by Chuck's Airways."
"They had a seat for you at a price we could afford." Anya slapped him on the
shoulder in one of her attempts at enthusiasm. "He's been flying for forty
years. I asked."
"Great." Spike processed that, then frowned. "Wait. A seat?" A glance at
the plane under the hard glare of the sodium lights confirmed his suspicions.
Absurd, embarrassing panic shot through him as he demanded, "You're not coming?
You said you were coming."
"I can make it down there by myself. You can't. Don't worry; you'll be in
the airport by dawn. It's a courier run and he has to make a deadline." The
emphasis on that last word didn't go unnoticed, but Spike chose to ignore it.
The whole ride here, he'd comforted himself with the knowledge that his little
pillar of pragmatism would be there to rein in his wild imagination. There
might be only one fork in the road, but it was still looming. Not having to be
the sensible and sane one during traveling had spoiled him; having that denied
now made him feel justified in lashing out just a bit.
"And then I'll... enjoy the fine cuisine? Browse duty-free?"
"By the time you're down, I'll have negotiated transport that's suitable for
Pragmatism was beginning to wear, now that he thought about it. Sure, it was
what had to be done, but he wasn't in the mood for logic right now. He either
wanted to be there right now or have someone to take his mind off things in the
meantime, and if she was zapping herself down, that meant he'd be stuck
"Hey! You that boy the girl mentioned? Hop on in, we've gotta land in
Klamath before two if we're making the pickup!"
Chuck. Who was wearing a jumpsuit that pulled at the seams and didn't
understand a fraction of how important it was to get down to California. Spike
gritted his teeth, then turned to face the man. "Suppose I am. Sure that
thing'll fly, mate?"
A meaty hand slapped against the side of the plane. "Girl's been good for a
long time, no matter what she looks like. Hop on in, we've gotta get cleared
Spike turned back to Anya as he screwed his determination down enough to step
onto the bolt bucket. Some niggling Victorian logic was chanting that those
who were meant to fly had wings, no matter what headlines those foolish
American brothers had earned. "Sure you can make it down there, pet? Know you
don't want to think about it, but you've been running on empty."
She ducked her head and clenched her fists; it was a surprisingly restrained
reaction for her. Spike tilted her chin back up and gave her a quick kiss.
"This is for him lording that chip over me. I wish Harris gets exactly what's
coming to him, and has to face up to it for once in his bloody life."
Anya gave him an odd look as her veins fleshed out and then faded. "That's
"Figure you should be the one who really decides the whys and whats." He
grinned at her, then gave another quick kiss before finishing, "Even though it
would be a fun time to do it myself."
Another unnamable expression was now framed by that mahogany brown hair, but
then she was smiling at him and giving him one of her too-tight hugs that would
drive the air out of any living man's lungs. "I'll see you down in L.A. Don't
worry before then, okay? Try to be polite to the nice pilot."
His disbelieving laugh surrounded Anya, and then the empty space she left
behind between one second and the next. That was it, then. No more
distractions. Spike turned as the bear of a man swung himself into the tiny
glass capsule, the windshield looking no more substantial than the rest of the
plane. Awfully convenient of Anya to have found transport back to Sunnydale
that looked as unsteady as he felt at the moment.
The propellors began a low hum. Apparently, Chuck was taking off whether he
was ready or not. Spike quickly jogged across the tarmac and pulled himself up
into the seat, making sure to throw in the luggage they--mostly Anya--had
wanted to bring back. Barely had he made sure that was wedged in safely before
they were rocketing down the runway and taking off, tilting wildly back and
forth with every passing breeze off the Sound.
Wobbling and sputtering at first, the plane slowly steadied and quieted the
further on their trip they traveled. So, like that, Spike went home.
* * * * *
"I was worried about you."
The first rays of dawn crested as Anya's arms found their way securely around
Spike's waist. They flooded into the terminal, stopping not five feet from
where the demon stood in jeans and flats. When she noticed that, she
shufflewalked him backwards a few steps, putting him further away from the
deadly sun. "You were supposed to be here earlier."
"Made it in time." He tilted his head towards the exit; she slid her arm
around his waist and walked toward it with him.
"It's not nice to make me worry," she finally said without looking over. "We
have enough to worry about."
"Yeah," Spike said, also without looking away from his goal.
It was funny, what he'd decided during the series of landings and takeoffs,
and all the interminable miles traveled between. No matter how much it was
insisted by the pilot that he couldn't see the landscape below, he still found
his gaze searching over it, tracing every rise and fall. He could see every
mile traveled, every foot taking him to the fate he'd accepted, and that was
Home. That was where he was headed. It might have been what he'd called the
place upon first arriving, but then it was laced with irony. Now it was a
truth he'd not quite been able to run from. But he was heading to a broken
home, and the king's men had dwindled in number.
Somewhere around a return to Eugene, if thousands of feet above the first
visit, he'd started to become disgusted with himself for succumbing to panic.
He spent the time between then and what he figured was Sacramento wishing Anya
had indeed come along for the ride, as that was when the most failed attempts
had been made to engage him in conversation. After then, though, he found
himself in the mode he remained in now: determination.
The troops might have dwindled, but he thought the best of the lot was left.
Now Anya was leaving his side as they made it to the parking garage, moving
toward the white paneled van parked at one edge of the concrete behemoth. He
didn't even want to ask how she'd found something non-standard like that in the
middle of the night
After barely missing the sedan next to her as Anya maneuvered the van out of
its parking space, she swung it around to the shadowed curb where Spike stood
waiting. Quite a change from the DeSoto, he thought as he climbed in and
started checking for any unnoticed cracks in the armor. Armor. There was an
image. If they'd rode out of town on the black steed, then that meant they
were coming back on-
Spike snorted. All the king's men, indeed. At least the absurdity of the
demons riding back on a white horse wasn't lost on him.
"You're laughing?" Anya demanded as she craned her head around. Only an
eyeroll was her response when Spike realized the van was moving and barked at
her to keep her eyes on the road. "Fine, fine. But are you laughing?"
"Not quite," he corrected as he pushed up against one of the walls and
attempted to relax in this strange car blocking out his destruction. "Just...
catching up. You know... trying to suss out how we came home happy and wound
up down here before morning." After a short pause, he said, "Well. That
wasn't home. Home's where we're headed back to."
"I thought we agreed that Sunnydale was their home, not ours." At least she
had enough sense not to try and crane her head back around again as she carried
on the conversation.
Spike shrugged. "Well, we both lied to ourselves about it, yeah." Now his
gaze grew distant as he amended, "Was the truth when we said we'd been
corrupted by them, though. They've got our chains planted in the Sunnydale
yard good and proper."
His ears were just able to pick up her mutters of how chains didn't make it
sound like a home as they rumbled over the speed bumps and then picked up
momentum. Then she said in a stronger tone, "You don't even seem worried.
What happened on that flight?"
"Wasn't the flight. Believe me, my guts're still tied in knots. It's
just...." He trailed off and drummed his fingers against the wall for a moment
before shrugging again and finishing, "Everyone's still alive, right? If
they're alive, and if Rupes wants us down, well, then we can fix them."
"Didn't work before."
"Fixed each other, didn't we?" Most of the time, it was a complete non-issue,
but now Spike was glad for his lack of reflection in the rearview mirror. If
you could only hear him, the lie wasn't as obvious.
The panic wasn't gone. It was just in hiding. He had to force it down,
though, and latch onto that old confidence that he could do anything he set his
mind to and didn't get bored with in the meantime. He had to go in there at
least mostly believing success was the only possibility.
For what he hadn't told Anya was that if Buffy didn't come back, he'd be gone
just as sure.
That had been the ultimate decision made when he stepped back into the lions'
den. He'd go in, sword waving and battle well met. Then the beasties would be
slain, and no longer would the populace be held captive to their dark sway.
Or he wouldn't come out at all.
Continued in Chapter 17