The Unruly Heart
The head is not more native to the heart.
Hamlet. Act i. Sc. ii
Here the heart
May give a useful lesson to the head,
And Learning wiser grow without his books.
William Cowper, The Task. Book vi. Winter Walk at Noon. Line 85.
Not this time. My poor head was simply whirled around by my unruly heart
Jefferson in Paris (1995)
Buffy was sleeping in her bed, dreaming of things yet to come. . . Hand-drawn graffiti in a locked room, crude images of demons fighting young girls. . . a dark-haired girl, fighting for her life. . . Angel.
She woke, dressed quickly and headed straight for Giles. Buffy burst into his office, only to find Faith there ahead of her.
“Hey, B. Didya have the same freaky dream? Crazy Slayer locked away in a padded room?” Faith caught the wild gleam in Buffy’s eye and, in typical fashion, cut right to the chase.
“Oh boy. Guess I wasn’t the only one getting surround-sound crazy girl?” Buffy looked from one to the other, gauging their reactions.
“Nope, got it in technicolor. Haven’t checked with any of the others, though.” Faith shrugged. “Don’t really trust them to know what to do anyway.”
Buffy looked away for a moment, her thoughts in a whirl. “Giles, Angel was in my dream. So I guess that means this is gonna go down in LA, huh?”
He leaned forward, his elbows resting heavily on his desk. “It appears that way. The coven has indicated there is a Slayer there, though whether it’s one we’ve already identified is unclear.”
“I’d go with unidentified, since she’s locked away.” Buffy paced through the office, while the other two watched her warily. “So. We have to send someone to LA.”
“Looks like.” Faith swung her booted feet against the desk. “You wanna go?”
Buffy gaped at her for a long moment. “Me?”
“It’s either you or me.”
“What? Why?” Buffy stopped spluttering after a moment, realizing exactly why Faith was proposing either of them. The thought was there, in her head, that she should go. She could deal with Angel, and . . . But she didn’t want to see him. Didn’t want reminders of what had once been. Nor did she want to see Angel and realize Spike wasn’t coming back. It was hard enough dealing with it in Scotland. Being in Los Angeles and close enough to visit what was left of Sunnydale. . .
Buffy wasn’t sure she had enough strength to not visit. And she realized that not going to LA was the smarter choice, even though part of her ached to go.
“Ah. No. A world of no. I don’t think I should go.” Both Giles and Faith stared at her, not understanding her sudden reluctance.
It didn’t take Faith nearly as long to decide. “Count me out. I’ve done enough rescuing.” She hopped down from the desk and headed for the door.
“If neither of you is willing to go, have you any suggestions?” Giles, for once, didn’t ask either of the two senior Slayers just why they were opting out of this particular mission.
“Send one of the watchers.” Buffy paused at the doorway, sad eyes staring at him, willing him to understand and not question her. “I can’t go. I just. . . send someone else.”
She was gone in the next instant, hurrying away from the choice she’d made.
It wasn’t easy, waiting for reports from Los Angeles. Buffy paced between her rooms and the offices, constantly rethinking her decision. I should’ve gone. And in the next ten footsteps, No, I made the right choice. It’s better I didn’t go.
No. I should be there.
Giles was right. Faith was right. But Andrew? Why on earth would he send Andrew?
She barely paid attention when someone asked her questions, when the new Slayers asked about training and patrolling schedules and Dawn nagged her about something else. . . Buffy’s mind was elsewhere.
Her thoughts were focused on Angel and the crazy, psycho Slayer that Andrew was in Los Angeles to retrieve.
There was something too, about the dream that nagged at her, something that kept her mind focused on it. She’d had the dream again, a second time, which was in itself unique. But what she’d seen in the second dream didn’t exactly mirror the first. There was another man, someone she should recognize. Someone she knew. . . but all she kept seeing was severed hands. Her brain wouldn’t allow her to see anything else. Just severed hands.
Who did those hands belong to?
Slayer dreams were often freaky, often bloody and downright creepy. But severed hands topped the ick factor, especially lately.
Buffy felt like she had half the story.
And waiting for Andrew to return was beginning to wear on her.
What the hell is taking so long?
I should’ve gone. I should have followed my instincts, listened to my heart and gone. Buffy closed her eyes and willed herself to find patience.
I should’ve gone.
Buffy listened with half an ear as Andrew rambled on and on, babbling about his time in Los Angeles, and how he pulled one over on Angel and his team at Wolfram and Hart. She was barely paying attention, focused instead on all the things she needed to do for their next move. The sound of Andrew’s annoying voice droned on, until she caught something that didn’t quite sit with her.
“Wait a minute. What did you just say?” She leaned away from the wall, her eyes fixed steadily on the suddenly spluttering Watcher-in-training. “Repeat, rewind for the listening audience.”
He looked around wildly, aware that he’d just, with a slip of the tongue, revealed a secret he’d promised to keep. “I. . . I – I. Nothing. I didn’t say anything.”
A raised eyebrow and a slight shift in her stance was all Buffy did, but it was sufficient to break the dam holding Andrew silent. “I promised! I pinky swore I wouldn’t tell. And now you’re making me squeal like a – like Lando!”
“Right. Except this time, you’re betraying the Sith to the Rebel Alliance.” Xander looked up from his seat at the table, staring down Andrew. “Give it up, geekmeister. We all heard you. Now spill.”
Andrew’s shoulders slumped visibly and in the face of everyone’s simmering anger, he caved. “Fine. Angel isn’t alone in the city bearing his name. He’s got company.”
“Company? What kind of company?” Willow pursed her lips, eyes darting from Andrew to Buffy. “We already know Wesley’s with him.”
“No, not the lost lamb from the Watchers fold. Another lost lamb – of the Sunnydale refugee variety.” A bit of smugness crept into his expression as he took in the reactions of all the original Scoobies. “Arisen from the ashes of his sojourn in the hellish realms where he took on the battle to end it all. . . .” and he paused for the most possible dramatic effect “Gandalf in vampyric guise!”
“Gandalf? What the hell are you talking about?” Buffy glanced from one face to the other, trying to make sense of Andrew’s geek-babble. “Speak in less metaphors!”
“I’m not sure he’s capable of that.” Giles took off his glasses, peering at his pupil. “Are we to understand that – and I hesitate to say this – are you implying that Spike survived the closing of the Hellmouth?”
Buff froze, unable to think beyond the mention of Spike’s name. He didn’t.
“Risen from the ashes, his spirit was first trapped within the amulet.” Andrew paused for dramatic effect, drawing out the moments of his big reveal. “As incorporeal as the First, our hero Vampyre was only restored to his considerable physical form upon receipt of a second mystical trinket.”
She was still gaping at him, one hand covering her mouth as heavy tears threatened to fall. Choking back her sobs, Buffy tried questioning Andrew. “What? How? He’s – Spike?”
The last little bit ended on a hiccupped breath, the tears she’d been fighting giving way.
“Geek-boy, cut to the chase, without the purple prose.” Xander’s voice broke the silence after Buffy’s incoherence. “Is he really back?”
“He is.” This time, Andrew didn’t embellish, didn’t elaborate. He just stated the facts.
“And he’s with Angel?” Giles asked the next all-important question.
“Not really. Angel – ” Andrew hedged, shifting uneasily under everyone’s scrutiny. “Some kind of magic is keeping him in LA. He can’t – I don’t think he can get too far away. And well, now he’s not able to. Dana chopped off his hands.”
Buffy couldn’t speak. The double shock – finding out Spike’s return and then subsequent maiming – hit her hard. “Oh my god.” He’s back – not dead. I have to . . . He’s not dead!
In a split second, Buffy’s whole world hd changed. And she knew what she had to . . .
“I’m coming with – ”
It was Dawn she answered. “No. I need you to stay here. I’ll – I’ll bring him home.”
I didn’t listen to my instincts in the Hell – in Sunnydale. Didn’t follow my heart. So not making that mistake again. Ever.
Buffy didn’t realize she’d spoken out loud until Dawn and Faith high-fived each other, “Awesome”, and “Wicked cool”, emerging from their simultaneously.
She tried waiting until Angel finally left, hiding away from him, wanting to avoid a confrontation until it was inevitable. That hadn’t stopped her from eavesdropping though – and she hadn’t liked most of what she’d heard.
Tuning out the bits about the bad old days, she’d perked up after hearing her name. And fumed. How dare he? Who does Angel – where does he get off telling Spike I don’t care? The hell?
The temptation to barge in there and set the record straight was almost too much to resist, but she somehow managed. Though it was a near thing. Inhaling deeply, Buffy managed to control her temper, until she heard Spike agreeing with Angel.
Letting her ire get the best of her, Buffy stormed into Spike’s hospital room. “You’re a dope.”
“Buffy?” The two males gaped at her, mouths hanging open.
“In the flesh.” She crossed her arms over her chest. “You’re wrong, you know. And still a dope.”
“Slayer?” Spike’s tone was caught between hope and anger, and he was having just a bit of trouble believing his eyes.
“Do you really believe the crap he’s feeding you? God, Spike, I – ” Buffy’s voice died away and an unexpected sob ripped from her. “Oh, god . . . you’re – You’re here.”
“In the flesh.” He deliberately flung her words back, trying to ignore the tears sliding down her cheeks. But as always, the sight of them reduced him to mush. “Wasn’t for a bit.”
“Huh? Wasn’t? What’s that mean?” Buffy sniffled, wiping away her tears with the back of her hand. “How long have you been back?”
The questions came at him rapid-fire, and Spike wasn’t sure which one he should answer first, until she’d finished speaking. “Was the amulet. Got stuck there an’ – ” He paused, unable to continue. It was clear Buffy really didn’t care about the real answers, at least not at that moment. Her hand reached out, resting against his cheek.
“Oh my God.” Fresh tears slid down her face, dripping onto the crisp white sheets covering his legs. “Oh, Spike.”
Angel harrumphed, the sound getting caught somewhere between his chest and throat, drawing both their attention. Buffy blinked, as if realizing he was still in the room with them, her eyes wide and full of an emotion Angel didn’t care to examine closely.
“Angel?” She blinked again, her gaze swinging from one to the other. Something about Spike’s answer caught her belated attention. “How long has – when did?”
He tried not answering her, tried to pretend he didn’t know what Buffy was asking him, but Angel couldn’t. There was a set to her chin he didn’t want to tempt. “Ah, it’s not an easy question to answer.”
When it looked like she wasn’t going to buy his avoidance, Angel threw a glare in Spike’s direction and then deflated into himself. “Fine – It wasn’t long after you left LA.”
“Yeah. He wasn’t himself though. Fred said something about him being inconsistent with ectoplasmic phenomena. It took a while to recorporealize him.”
Spike’s snort of disdain didn’t go unnoticed, Buffy’s eyes sliding to meet his. Knowing just by his expression there was more to the story than what Angel was imparting, she nodded. Her eyes narrowed, “So, what you’re saying is, Spike’s been back for a while and no one thought to, you know, let us know?”
Before the hemming and hawing could start, Buffy added, “And by ‘us’ I mean me.”
“Didn’t know where you were.” Spike’s gaze met hers dead on, without wavering. It was Angel who wouldn’t meet her intense stare.
“So you didn’t tell him?”
She didn’t give him time to formulate a lie. “Go, Angel.”
“Now. Go. I can’t look at you right now. I – don’t explain – just go.”
She collapsed on the corner of the bed, dismissing Angel completely from her mind. I’ll deal with him later, when my temper isn’t all frazzled . . .
Buffy burst into fresh tears.
“Don’t cry, pet.” Spike watched helplessly while Buffy choked back her tears. “Please, don’t cry over me.”
Sniffling through her tears, Buffy garbled something Spike couldn’t catch, even with his superior hearing. “Howzat?”
“I’ll cry when I want to. You can’t tell me – ” Her voice trailed off, her eyes roaming over him. Understanding dawned as she looked into his eyes. “I did mean it. I wasn’t just saying it.”
“Slayer.” Her fingers brushed over his lips, stopping him from saying anything else.
“Not important. Burned bridges and all that.” His lips formed a kiss, and he tried to grasp hers, but his hands weren’t cooperating. Frustration clouded his eyes.
“Can we just bask in the goodness?”
“Bask in the goodness. You. Me. No apocalypesyness in the air.”
“Should be careful, Slayer. Don’t want to call up the nasties.”
“Nah. It’s not the Hellmouth. And there’s loads of Slayers to deal. We can just . . . take our time.”
“‘S that right?” A guarded look developed on Spike’s face. “Take our time doing?”
“Whatever we want.”
“We? Our?” Buffy wiped away the last of her tears, watching hope flare to life and begin to replace the wary expression in his eyes.
“We. Us. Take our time . . .”
“Follow our hearts.” Buffy moved closer, her eyes steadily looking into his.
He couldn’t help himself. He had to know, for certain, before he actually believed her, trusted her. “Doesn’t your heart want Peaches?”
A look he’d never before seen crossed her features. It was there and gone, in a fleeting heartbeat and if he hadn’t been looking so closely, Spike was sure he would’ve missed it completely. “Angel? Um . . . No. He was my first love, but he’s – not my last.” She whispered that last little bit, almost as if she’d never really admitted, even to herself, before this moment.
Once more her eyes lifted to him. “So can we? Follow our hearts?”
“Sounds like the best plan ‘ve heard in a long while.”
“Good. We can start that now. Right now.”
And Buffy leaned down to kiss him.