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From the Ashes

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Jack has started his life over so many times that he has nearly lost count. The first time was joining the Air Force. He left behind his plain childhood to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. And it was great. He loved the Air Force and yeah, sometimes the Air Force didn’t exactly love him back, but he excelled there.

The next time wasn’t really starting over, per say, so much as it was adapting his current life around a person, then people. Getting married and having a son was a lot better than his life prior to Sara and Charlie. Even with the heartbreak that followed.

The next time he had to start over was both harder and easier. Easier, because home had not changed while he was gone, and harder, because he had. Four months being held behind enemy lines changed him and he wasn’t sure that he could change back.

Then came the most devastating start-over to date. He lost his son to an accident involving his gun; then later, as he locked his guilt and despair inside, his wife. To be fair, he had left on a suicide mission but coming home to an empty house and a set of divorce papers was not how he wanted to start his new life. And, thanks to a certain archeologist (who shall remain nameless), he really did want to start his new life. His biggest regret is that his son’s death was the catalyst for what he thought of as both his best and worst new life. Because this life was both.

Going through the Stargate was like nothing else he had ever done before. Here he was, traveling across the galaxy almost everyday with the best friends he ever had. He fought bad guys, flew spaceships, saved people…doomed people, killed people, made situations worse. He didn’t know it was even possible to both love and hate a new life as much as he loved and hated this one…and damn did he miss it.

Now, he was once again in possession of a new life and hoped to God, The Powers That Be, and whoever else may be listening that it was his last. It was a slow transition at first. He had held out hope that his sudden height loss could and would be corrected…until he saw Him. The other Jack O’Neill. And he suddenly found himself drop-kicked out of his Stargate centered life and into high school. Though his demon hunting career could be called a start-over from there, he preferred to file high school away with such almost-start-overs like Edora and that time he was memory stamped.

His newest life was like nothing he could have imagined, even after going through the ‘gate and doing what he did. He could have never foreseen being Jack Edwards, teenager and traveling around in a camper with a souled vampire who can walk in the sun and pretends to be his uncle, fighting demons with said vampire and all while working for a man who works at a semi-evil law firm run by another souled vampire. Oh, and magic is real. Go figure.

 

The first time that Spike’s life was started over, was when he was turned. Of course, he didn’t know exactly what he was agreeing to when he met the strange, hypnotizing woman in the alley, but he learned. In his new life there was no more “William, the bloody awful poet” or women laughing down their noses at him…no more Mother. He tried, he really did, to bring his mother with him into his new life, but she was so different. He still couldn’t understand how he could still love her after the change but she couldn’t love him. He wasn’t alone in his new life, though. He had Dru. His black goddess. The love of his un-life.

Life as a vampire was wonderful. Never before had he felt so strong and powerful. There was also the thrill. Thrill of the hunt, thrill of the fight, and Slayers. Of course, this was bogged down by little things like: no more sun, higher alcohol tolerance, and a pesky pseudo-sire by the name of Angelus. Angelus didn’t stick around long though.

If he was honest with himself, his life started over again when Angelus became Angel. Dru may have been the one to sire him, but it was Angelus who had taught him how to be a vampire. A monster. He never liked to admit the other man’s power over him, not even to himself, but it was there. Angelus dominated his un-life and his girlfriend while ruling with an iron fist, or fists as the case may have been. With him gone, Spike was better able to be himself. To enjoy the world and everything in it. Life with out Angelus was satisfying and long.

There was, of course, that brief period in Sunnyhell when Angel took a turn for the evil, but Spike didn’t count that as a start over. It was more like a flash back but with more leather.

His life did start over in Sunnyhell later anyway. One minute he was plotting revenge on the Slayer, the next he was caged, in more ways than one. What The Initiative had done to him, the new life they forced onto him was awful, exciting, interesting, boring, annoying, and wonderful all at the same time. Thinking back though, what he really remembers is the pain. Never in any of his time on this earth had he felt such a pain before and may he never feel such again.

The next start-over was when he fell in love with the Slayer. Sure, he was fighting demons before that, but it was mostly because he could. By falling for the Slayer, he began to help out more. He became a White Hat, much to his own dismay. When the Slayer died, everyone thought that it would be the end of the new Spike, but they were wrong. His life didn’t start over again until she came back.

At first, he was angry. ‘Magic always has consequences,’ he said. The consequences just took a while to show themselves. But they did and he became the Slayer’s whipping boy. She ran hot and cold, said ‘no’ and ‘stop’ when she wanted him. Striking out when she felt like it. And he took it, because he wanted her, any piece that she would give him. Until the day he tried to take too much. The day that she said ‘no’ and ‘stop’ and meant it.

His life started over again in a dark cave in Africa. He was never quite sure what exactly he was seeking when he went through the trials, but what he got was a soul, and it burned. He went a little crazy after that, but eventually pulled himself out of the basement of Sunnydale High to throw himself into the fight against The First. It ended up killing him, and he thought it was the end…

Only to come back and start over again in LA, with Angel. Angel thought that getting a soul hadn’t really changed him that much. He still talked the same, fought the good fight and all that, but the truth is that it did change him. He just didn’t show it very much. All the guilt that he carried inside him, all the doubt, was hidden. The only ones who saw it and cared were Fred and the Watcher. Because of them this newest life was turning out to be the best. He had a purpose in life again, one that he was sharing with Jack. They were going to make a difference in the world and Spike pitied anything that got in their way.

 

It was determined that if Jack was going to join Spike in working for the yet un-named detective agency, the two of them would have to get to know one another. That meant talking. And because it was the two of them, it meant drinking…A lot of drinking.

So they got a hotel room in sunny LA, on the company card, and Spike bought enough alcohol to take down an elephant (or a vampire and a teenager), also on the company card. And then they talked.

 

“So, she’s still out there somewhere?”

“Yeah, as far as I know. Dru may not be very sane, but she’s a survivor.”

 

“And then we heard the shot. I recognized it instantly and I think Sara knew it was wrong, same as me.”

 

“So I told her, ‘To the end of the world, even if that happens to be tonight.’”

 

“The snake bastard just kept torturing me to death over and over again, trying to get the information.”

“Tortured to death?”

“Figure of speech. Sure wished I wasn’t going to wake up each time.”

 

“Seventy-six bottles of beer on the wall, seventy-something bottles of beer! Take one down and pass it around, seventy-six bottles of beer on the wall.”

“Seventy-five, not seventy-six.”

Sigh. “I love beer.”

 

“I could feel was the light burning into me from the amulet. It really hurt. ‘Course I laughed as I turned to dust.”

“It kept you from screaming.”

“Yeah.”

 

“Wow, that’s a lot of people.” Jack slurred. They were both lying on their backs on the hotel room floor. Beer bottles and bottles of hard liquor were scattered on various surfaces through out the room. All empty. Scattered around the two men were mostly empties but also a few full bottles. Oh, and snacks. Lots of snacks.

“Yup.” Spike responded with a popped ‘p.’ “And only one bleeding shower that never had any hot water left.”

“You poor, poor man.” If Spike were more sober, he would have thought it was sarcasm. Though, if Jack were less drunk, it would have been.

“Did I mention that they were all teenaged girls?”

“Yeah.” Jack’s unfocused gaze was directed at the ceiling above their heads.

“You know what that means don’t you?” Spike turned his head to eye the kid.

“Cat fights?” Jack was really far gone, if the dopey grin had anything to say about it. Spike just snorted before turning back to the ceiling.

“Nope, PMS. Each and every one of them. At the same time.” The last sentence was punctuated by Spike with a finger pointed in the air.

Jack giggled, though he would feign memory loss in the morning. “Are you drunk?” Spike had been responsible for most of the empty bottles. Jack’s tolerance wasn’t what it once was.

Spike lifted both hands out in front of him, watching with utter fascination the way they turned this way and that. “Nope.”

“You sure?” Jack slurred, also watching the hands move.

“Yep. ‘You are not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on.’”

Their laughter filled the room.