Prologue to Life/I Know You by Slaymesoftly

ReviewsRating: NC-17

Summary: A response to a challenge at the Bloodshedverse where Buffy is returned to her season II body with all her post Season VII memories. She is there due to a spell Willow performs to try to help Buffy get over mourning for Spike.

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Chapter 18

Buffy wandered around Sunnydale for a while, enjoying the waning sunshine and putting off the inevitable talk with Angel. The affection she still felt for the soulled vampire was present, but she knew that was not what this Angel was used to from her and she doubted he would be very happy to find that blind adoration was a thing of her past. Not to mention, that he’d been replaced in her affections by his grandchilde.

When dusk began to settle over the town, she stopped stalling and walked toward his apartment near the Bronze. She stood outside the door for several minutes, just staring at the familiar wood and lost in her memories of long ago. When the door opened to show a puzzled Angel on the other side, she shook herself out of her reverie and smiled kindly.

“How are you feeling?”

“I might ask you the same thing. How long were you planning to stand out there before you knocked? Or were you planning to come in at all?”

She heard the barely disguised hurt in his voice and shook her head as she walked past him into the room. Glancing around at the familiar, spartan furnishings, she sighed and sat in one of the chairs.

“Of course I was planning to come in. I just got lost in memory-land for awhile, that’s all.” She looked up at him and smiled crookedly. “You guys might have to get used to seeing ‘spaced-out-Buffy’. I have a feeling that’s going to happen more than once.”

He sighed and sat down opposite her. “I suppose we will. Is this where you fill me in on why you don’t love me anymore? Because if it’s due to what you saw with Drusilla, I warned you--”

She looked at him in surprise, amazed that he had brought it up so abruptly, but she made no attempt to reassure him.

“Angel,” she began slowly, wondering how best to get him to understand without revealing too much about her relationship with Spike, “I still love you. You will always have a place in my heart. You are--were my first serious boy friend, and I Ioved you with every fiber of my sixteen year old body.

“But I’m not that sixteen-year-old girl anymore. I grew up. And I had to do that growing up very quickly – in large part because of Angelus.”

“What did I—he—do to you?” he spoke through gritted teeth and she could see tears behind his eyes. “Is that why you don’t want me any more?”

She shook her head and tried to explain. “My feelings for you, my inability to kill you when I first had the chance, caused a lot of pain, both physical and emotional, for the people I care about. It’s not so much about what you did to me, as it is about what my shirking of my duty allowed you to do to my friends. I had to toughen up and it wasn’t much fun.”

She looked him in the eye and said calmly, “In my time line, you were Angelus for much more than one day. And you didn’t spend that time shagging Dru. Not all of it, anyway,” she added with a rueful smile.

“What kinds of things did I do?” he asked, staring hard at his feet. He wanted to call her on using Spike’s word for sex, but something told him he didn’t want to know where and when she learned it.

“Can we just leave it at you weren’t a very nice guy to be around?” she asked hopefully.

“I want to know, Buffy. I want to know what Angelus did.”

She studied him for a minute, then said abruptly, “You know you and Angelus are the same person, right? Cause I’m not buying the whole split personality thing the way I used to.”

“I have no control over Angelus, Buffy. You know that. He has no soul.”

“Neither does Spike,” she said quietly. “But he’s never killed or tortured my friends – well, except for smacking Xander around, anyway.”

“Can’t blame him for that,” Angel muttered. “Boy’s almost as big a pain in the ass as Spike is himself.”

He looked up at her fearfully. “I killed and tortured people? I didn’t hurt you, did I?”

“Only in the ‘my boyfriend suddenly hates me and wants me dead’ sense of the word.”

“I’m so sorry, Buffy.”

“Relax, that’s my Angel. You haven’t done any of those things. All you’ve done is give Dru a lot of happies, and tried to kill me once. No biggie.”

He gawked at her. “No biggie?”

“Not when compared to…”

He squeezed his eyes shut, then said quietly. “How did I lose my soul in your time? Was it the same way?”

Buffy blushed from her roots to her toes. “Uh…well, in a way…but not, not exactly.” She couldn’t prevent her eyes from moving to the bed in the corner.

He followed her gaze to his bed, then looked back at her flaming face and understanding flew across his features.

“You,” he said with a gasp. “I lost it when I made love to you.”

“Yes,” she said, still blushing. “Hey, who knew Dru could make you that happy too?” She tried to change the subject away from sex with her.

“Happy?”

“Uh, yeah, turns out that’s the little catch in the curse. One moment of complete happiness and it’s bye-bye soul.”

He sat in silence for a minute, going over what he was learning about himself.

“So, that’s why we aren’t together? Because if we –if I have that moment of perfect happiness, I lose the soul?”

“Well, that’s one of the reasons why you left me, yes. It’s complicated, Angel. You left, we both moved on. Things changed.”

They were quiet for a minute, then the vampire said, “Giles is looking into a way to anchor the soul. The gypsy woman is going to help him.”

He raised hopeful eyes to hers. “So, someday…”

Buffy shook her head sadly. “No, Angel. I want you to get your soul anchored. No question about that. It’s way too shaky to suit me right now. But it isn’t going to change…us…me. You will always have a piece of my heart, but the rest of it belongs to someone else now. Someone who earned it the hard way.”

“Are you going to tell me who it is?”

“Not right now, I’m not. Who knows? It’s …possible…he won’t fall in love with me this time…things are so different now.”

Her chin trembled just enough to be noticeable, and she blinked back the tears threatening to fill her eyes. With a little shake, she threw off the fear that Spike would never come back and gave Angel a sympathetic smile.

“But he has my heart, whether he wants it or not. And that’s never going to change.”

“Never’s a long time, Buffy.” Angel smiled, his over 200 years of existence having given him some perspective that even grown-up Buffy still lacked.

After another few minutes of uncomfortable silence, Buffy stood up and said, “Well, I just needed to see how you were doing. I have to go patrol now and maybe check up on the Master’s old gang and see how many Spike left standing.”

“I could come with you,” he offered hopefully. “There’s no reason for us to not be friends, is there? I can still help you.”

She studied his open face for a minute, seeing nothing but affection and a willingness to continue to fight on her side. She shrugged and agreed readily.

“Sure, Angel. All slayage help is gratefully accepted. As long as you don’t get in my way or go into over-protective mode.”

“Grown-up and fully capable Slayer. I think I got that message pretty well yesterday, “ he said ruefully, pointing to the bruises still visible on his face.

“You had it coming,” she said, smiling apologetically.

“I probably did, at that,” he agreed as he picked up his jacket. “So, we’re on for a bit of dusting before dinner?”

“Yep. Bad guys look out. Here we come.”



On the deck of a ship, working it’s way across the Caribbean Sea, a blond vampire stared over the dark water and tried to erase the memory of a warm body moving under his, and soft, supply lips kissing their way over his face and throat. As always happened, the more he tried to forget what she felt like, the harder he got and more he craved another taste of her. He knew Dru was getting suspicious about his lack of interest in reclaiming her affections from Angelus and he headed for their below-decks room determined to put his throbbing erection to good use and make her believe he still loved her.

Unfortunately, it didn’t go as well as he’d hoped at first, as the dark-haired vampires hissed at him when he began kissing his way down her throat and running his hands over her body. He persisted, murmuring endearments to her and touching her in all the ways he knew she liked, until she relented and, with one of her mercurial changes in mood, she sank her teeth into his neck and growled with passion. As he lost himself in the violent, bloody and erotic play, Spike was almost able to forget another body that was just as strong and passionate, but warm where his dark princess was cold. Almost.

By the time the cruise ship got them to the coast of Venezuela, his constant attention had convinced his lover of over 100 years that he had done what he did out of love for her, not any desire to help the Slayer, and they drifted back into a life of nightclubs, hunting and sex in airy hotel rooms.

And if, in the middle of their daytime sleep, she occasionally whimpered for Angelus, or he clutched her body and silently mourned the lack of warmth, neither was willing to admit the other’s temporary lapse.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


And so, things went back to normal in Sunnydale. Or as normal as they can be when you are Heaven’s Chosen One and live on a Hellmouth. Buffy struggled to maintain her friendships with her much younger schoolmates and enjoyed frustrating Principal Snyder by making all “A’s”. Without Spike and Angelus to worry about, she wasn’t having to skip classes often enough to register on his radar. She would occasionally find him following her around the building, as though he was sure if he just watched her long enough, hard enough, he would catch her doing something for which he could punish her.

Most of the time, she would pause and wait for him to almost run into her before turning around and greeting him with a sweet smile and a “How are you today, Mr. Snyder?”, but every once in awhile she couldn’t resist using her Slayer speed or strength to disappear when he wasn’t looking and come back toward him from a completely different direction . The ratty looking little man would stutter and sputter, but had no answer when she would ask innocently, “Have I done something wrong, Mr. Snyder?”

Even Giles, who tried very hard to maintain a British stiff upper lip in the face of her activities, couldn’t help laughing quietly at the annoying little man’s obvious frustration. Even as he accused her of being childish, he was thoroughly enjoying watching his boss being made a fool of. There was too much Ripper still in the older man for him not to enjoy the sight of a pompous ass being brought down.

Buffy and Willow drifted back into an easy friendship, made easier by the red-head’s interest in magic and her questions about her future self. The Slayer did her best to steer her friend away from the dark magics, while at the same time assuring her that she was going to become a very powerful witch and be enormously helpful in the future.

When Willow and Oz became an item, Buffy was able to subtly let the werewolf know that she knew about him, and she helped him explain it to Willow. They were able to keep him in and safe from the bounty hunter that came to town, but there was nothing Buffy could do about their future together except vow to be there for her friend when the crash came.

It was more difficult for Buffy to fall back into a relationship with Xander. In addition to finding his girl friend shallow and boring, Buffy could not forget Xander’s hatred of Spike in her time, and his attempt to kill him after she had declared a truce with the vampire in this one.

Things remained very strained between the two former best friends, until Willow couldn’t stand it anymore and made them both sit down with her and talk it out over hot chocolate.

“Guys, I love you both, and you are killing me with the not talking, and the dirty looks. Can we please work this out so I can have both my friends back? I mean, not that I don’t have you both as friends, but it would be nice if we could all be in the same room at the same time, you know?” Her eyes pleaded with them as she paused for breath.

Buffy bit her lip, then allowed, “I may be blaming Xander for things he did in my future, and that’s not fair of me.” She turned to look at the anxious-looking boy, “But, I’m having a very hard time forgiving you for shooting Spike when I had promised him he could leave Sunnydale safely.”

“Is that the only reason you’re so mad at me, Buffy? Because I broke your promise? Cause, I’ve gotta say, keeping promises to the evil undead? Not real high on my list.”

“Keeping promises to anybody I make them to, is very high on my list, Xander. That would especially true when the other person is keeping his promise to not eat my friends and to help me save somebody I care about.”

Her angry green eyes bored into his until he dropped his gaze and mumbled, “Okay, I guess I can see that. I’m sorry I tried to dust Spike. I just thought—“

“You just thought you were helping. I get that, Xander. Really I do. But you can’t help me by going behind my back like that and making your own decisions about killing people.”

“Vampires, Buffy. We’re talking about dusting vampires.”

“And, again, I remind you, you are talking about a vampire that in my time has helped me save the world. A vampire that has saved your life more than once. Granted, this Spike isn’t there yet. And I’m not saying you should invite him in for dinner if he comes back to Sunnydale. But I am saying that nobody but me makes any decisions about dusting Spike or Angel. They are my vampires – to slay or not slay.”

“All right,” he agreed with a sigh. “I promise not to harbor homicidal thoughts about the undead, if you promise not to let them eat me.”

“Agreed,” she said with a small smile. “Shake on it?”

“How about a hug on it?” he asked hopefully.

She was about to refuse when it occurred to her that she could make a small point about their relationship without saying a word and she nodded and stood up. When he put his arms around her and pulled her into his body for a hug, she reciprocated by putting her arms around him and squeezing, using just a small amount of her strength, but enough to make it obvious that a strong hug would have broken his ribs. When he began to gasp for air and whimper, she smothered her smile and instead let go immediately, saying, “Oh, my god, Xander. Did I hurt you? I’m so sorry. I’m not used to…I didn’t hurt you, did I?”

“Uh, no,” he wheezed, “No problem. Just…I’m human, you know? Breakable.”

“I’m sorry. I forget sometimes that I have to be so careful with human bo-men. “

He gave her a searching look, wondering if she was talking specifically about him or in general about all men. And, if it was all men, then who or what had she been dating for the next several years? Surely she wasn’t still with Angel in her time? She’d pretty much told him in front of them that they weren’t together anymore. It briefly crossed his mind that she had talked about how close she and Spike were in the future, and he shuddered to think she had taken up with another vampire – and one without a soul.

He shrugged it off to worry about another day, just happy that they were still going to be friends. His love-hate relationship with Cordelia was more than enough to keep him from obsessing over Buffy the way he had when she first moved to Sunnydale and her constant reminders that she was much older than he just added to his ability to be realistic about his chances of having anything romantic with her.

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