Reviews • Rating: PG-13
Summary: *Canon and then a new direction* He tried to drown her memory. Tried to forget her face. Those beautiful, tear-filled eyes. But her voice… it lived inside of him, haunting him, day in and day out, reminding him of the promise he made to her, a promise spoken on the last vestiges of fitful sleep, a promise to always be there when she needed him, to always have her back, to always be at her side. He broke that promise, first by dying and then by not informing her of his return, though he couldn’t be sure she needed him any longer. Yet to close the door on his past and move on with his future, Spike knew he had to make amends for the lie he told to her, the one he’d known, even in sleep, that he wouldn’t be able to keep… or would he?
Author's Notes: Post Destiny, ATS Season 5; It takes off from where the episode leaves off and takes the canon in a new direction. Written for the noel_of_spike LiveJournal Community.
He did it for her. Could lie and say he hadn’t. That he’d only done it to prove to himself that he could. That he had what it took to beat the one who always beat him. To become the best of them, the one who finally went first.
But what good would a lie do when his heart, when his soul, still spoke the truth?
It always came back to her, didn’t it? The one girl he couldn’t seem to shake.
He breathed for her. He drank for her. He burned for her.
Yet… he didn’t have her. Couldn’t hold her. Hadn’t even seen her in months.
Still, she was there, wasn’t she? Floating around inside his head, haunting him with the idea of her, the idea of them, of a future he could taste but never see, of a heart he could heal but never touch.
She drove him crazy, she did. Always hovering over him, teasing him with what he couldn’t have. Even a thousand miles away and no idea he walked the earth again, she taunted him, goaded him, challenged him to do better, to do more.
But what did doing more get him? What did fighting for her attain?
She wasn’t there. She didn’t know he even bloody existed anymore.
Would she want to? Would she be happy that he did? Did she mourn him when he didn’t?
The not knowing was the worst, he knew. The constant second guessing himself, and her. The incessant analyzing of her last words. Her last look. Last touch.
He needed to know if she meant it. If he’d been wrong about her, about her feelings, her tears. Maybe then he’d finally be able to move on, to forget her the way she’d no doubt forgotten him.
Spike motioned the bartender for another drink, purposely ignoring the frown of concern on the other man’s face. After all, it wasn’t his ruddy fault that he didn’t know Spike could hold his liquor. Right now, he looked as human and normal as he did, didn’t he?
He shook his head and downed his whiskey shot in one swig, ordering another before the man had time to fully back away. When it became apparent the man was thinking of cutting him off, Spike sighed, pulling out some bills and placing them on the bar in front of him. “Keep ‘em comin’, mate. Had a bad bloody day and I’d like to forget about it for a while.”
No, not it, he amended silently. Her. Always sodding her.
* * *
Buffy Summers lowered the telephone receiver from her ear certain that she misunderstood the rush of words, the rapid slur of news. But she couldn’t have really. Angel wouldn’t have called if he didn’t have proof, proof he knew she would want to hear and see as soon as possible.
Yet… how could it be true? She watched Spike burn. She even said her goodbyes to him. No one left inside that cave could have survived the fallout, the destruction, not even a brave, stubborn vampire like Spike.
“Are you there, Buffy? Did you hear me?”
Oh, she heard him. She just wasn’t sure she could believe him. “How?” she asked, lifting the receiver again. “How is this possible? How could he be… alive?”
“He’s not alive, but he did survive and he… misses you. He’s been asking for you, wanting to see you.”
Of course he had, did. Spike would always ask for her. Always want to see her, be with her.
Oh God. He made it. He really made it. “Where… is he?” she questioned finally, fighting back tears, tightening her fingers on the receiver as she ignored the slight shake in her hand. “Where can I… reach him?”
“I’m not sure. We had a fight and… he took off. He mentioned something about going to a local pub, but… there’s a chance he’s gone to find you. I told him you were in Europe.” He sighed. She heard the sound of clinking glass in the background before he continued with, “Look, you know I’m not Spike’s biggest fan, and the thought of you and he together…
“But he loves you, Buffy. He proved that to me tonight. He died saving you in Sunnydale, saving everyone, and now that he’s back… I think you should give him a chance, a real chance. He deserves it. Hell, he even earned it.”
That may be true, but how could she give him a chance if she didn’t even know where he was? “Did he believe you about Europe? And what do you mean he earned it? What happened? How bad was the fight you got into? Is he okay? Are you?”
“I don’t know. I think so. Doesn’t matter how. Just that we did, and he won. And it was bad enough for me to call you and sing his praises.”
Buffy frowned, nodded despite the knowledge that he couldn’t see it, and she chose not to think too deeply on how crazy it was for Angel to be down enough to talk Spike up to her. “I have to go. I have to… I’ll be in touch.” She hung up before he could say anything else and looked over at the wide-eyed girl perched on the other end of the couch. “It’s Spike, he’s… back.”
* * *
Spike left the bar at half-past two in the morning and headed back down the street from whence he came, the alcohol in his system already beginning to fade out. If he hadn’t let the bartender talk him into slowing down, he would’ve been pissed beyond all thinking now.
Ruddy bastard, interfering in things he had no business interfering in. Should’ve sodding bit him for that. Probably would’ve back in the day, before she took hold of his mind and changed him into a bleeding, broken house pet.
And where in the bloody hell was she now? Not with him, that’s for sure. She didn’t even know there was a him to be with anymore. His fault, but still… should’ve bloody known. He would have. Somehow.
Oh, who was he kidding?
He wouldn’t have known she was back anymore than she knew he was. They didn’t have some grand cosmic connection. They didn’t have anything save for a promise, a broken promise at that.
He needed to do something about that. Fix it somehow. But how could he without letting her know he was back? That he’d been back for months, ghostly though he was.
Wasn’t ghostly now though, was he? All his little bitty fingers and toes worked. If he wanted to, he could get in touch with her. Couldn’t be too bloody hard. All he had to do was find the Watcher, bound to be listed bloody somewhere, and once he found him, he knew the Slayer wouldn’t be too far behind.
Angel and the gang wouldn’t help him. More likely they’d do everything in their sodding power to stop him from getting to her, especially now that he’d injured the bloody champion of the people. Not to mention putting a kink in his great, big, brooding well of pride.
Spike paused in front of the doors to Wolfram and Hart, uncertain of whether or not he wanted to go back inside his one-time sire’s building. The git would likely try and kill him in his sleep for what he’d done tonight, how he’d beat him. Fake cup or not, he’d won and that had to grate on the big oaf’s nerves.
No, better to find somewhere else to bed down for the night, least until he figured out what to do about Buffy. After that, it’d only be a matter of going to her, making things right again. If they could be made right, that is.
She’d probably punch him for not insisting someone call her and tell her he was back, even in ghost form. She hated when others made decisions for her and the fact that he’d done it himself, and let the others do it also… she’d be livid, and he couldn’t say as he’d blame her for it. Had a right to be angry, didn’t she? Especially with him.
Why the bleeding hell had he made that promise to her? He’d known the second he touched the amulet he wouldn’t make it out of the fight. Had his last dance card written all over it, it did. Surprising she hadn’t bloody sensed it herself, what with her Slayer powers and all.
If she had though, he never would have got to wear the sodding thing and then where would they be?
Bloody well dead, that’s where. No more slayers. No more watchers. No more chosen ones with family and friends. No more champions of the bloody people.
Wouldn’t be any more people left to champion, would there? Demons would run amok, destroying anything in their bleeding path. Blocking all the bloody light. Killing everything in sight.
Yeah, definitely better that he wore it. Better that he promised. That he lied. Least until he came back. Now… she needed the truth. Needed him to keep his promise. If only so that she could send him away herself.
Her decision. That’s what it came down to, wasn’t it? Her call. Always her bleeding call.
Bloody whipped, no doubting it now, was there? He’d go to her because he had to. Because she’d expect for him to. There wasn’t any choice in it. Never had been. Not once he fell in love with her, at least.
And he was in love with her. Head could deny it all it wanted, but the heart, the soul, knew the truth.
He was hers. Same as he’d always been. Same as he always would be.
All that was left to do was to find her and tell her about it. Have them a little reunion. A good, grown-up face to face chat to clear things up. Put things into perspective.
Wasn’t impossible. They could do it. Things had changed since Sunnydale. Weren’t the same people they were back then. Not now. Not after what they went through. Fought for.
Maybe he could even get her to forgive him now. For hurting her. For loving her.
Wouldn’t know until he tried, right? Worst case, she’d toss him out on his bloody rear and leave him for sunlight. Best case…
Well, no use thinking about that one, was there? Never bloody happen. Not to him. Not with her.
* * *
Buffy paced the floor in front of the living room window, casting a quick, sweeping glance outside every few seconds. So far, she hadn’t seen any sign of Spike, which made her wonder if Angel could have been wrong about the vampire coming to find her.
Given his last words to her in the cave, there was every reason in the world to think he wouldn’t want anything to do with her. Lying about loving him was one thing, lying and being caught at it was something else.
Only… she hadn’t exactly been lying, had she? Well, not for long anyway. In the end, after she’d run from him and had time to replay their conversation again, she knew why he’d said what he said. What she hadn’t known was how deeply it would hurt her to know he’d been right. Then, at least, in that moment, before she had the chance to examine her feelings and realize they were true.
But how could she explain herself to him now? He wouldn’t understand what she’d come to know that night. She barely understood it and she was the one that felt it!
Buffy stopped pacing and sighed, leaning her head against the cold window pane.
Dawn went to bed hours ago, content in the knowledge that Spike would somehow find them. If Angel could be believed, and her sister wasn’t at all sure she trusted him.
Buffy couldn’t blame her there. She had her own set of doubts, but none of them were due to Spike’s inability to come back to her, to somehow be brought back as both she and Angel once had. He sacrificed himself to save the world just as she and Angel did. That meant something. She knew that it did. She just wasn’t quite sure what it meant.
A shadow moved in her periphery vision and her gaze went to it instantly. She couldn’t make its image out clearly enough to know if it was Spike, but the tingling at the nape of her neck suggested that it could be, that it might be.
Yet how could it be him? Angel told him that she was in Europe somewhere. Far away from California and the life she led here.
Had he known it was a lie? Had he found her after all?
Only one way to be certain.
Spike heard the growl a split second before he rounded the corner of her street—the one he forced Angel to reveal to him when he broke into his penthouse and demanded he be given her address—and sprinted toward it faster than he could ever remember going before.
He got to the front of the house just as the vampire turned to dust, a familiar blonde standing in profile over his dirty carcass with a disappointed frown hovering over her lips and what looked like a wooden candy cane dangling from her fingers.
Always the resourceful one, his girl. Bloody good to know that at least hadn’t changed.
He chuckled softly, shaking his head, and froze as she twisted to face him suddenly, her hazel eyes widening as her mouth formed a perfect, little ‘O’ of surprise.
He gave a small nod and stepped forward into the porch light, thrusting his hands into his duster pockets as he offered her a small, hesitant smile. “Hello, love. Fancy meetin’ you out here like this. Was expectin’ to have to knock on the door, beg you to invite me in.”
She closed her mouth and reached out a hand only to drop it a second later and wrap her arms around her torso. “Angel called me earlier. He told me you might be coming.”
“Did he now?” Spike narrowed his eyes. “And what else did the big Poof tell you?”
She shivered beneath a light breeze and backed up until she could sit on the porch steps, her unreadable gaze locking with his. “You mean other than the fact that you were back and that you beat him in a fight?”
“Told you that, too, did he? Suppose he also made into my fault?” Bloody Uncle Tom! Should’ve staked his arse when I had the chance.
She smiled softly, unknowingly diffusing some of his anger, and slowly shook her head. “He didn’t blame you actually. He told me you beat him because you deserved to win, that you earned it, because you wanted it more.”
He what? Hang on… “Did the wanker tell you what we were fightin’ over?”
“No, but there was enough of a hint in his words that I could take a guess at it.”
Spike frowned. “Suppose you think I ought to apologize for breakin’ his ribs then?”
“You broke his ribs?”
He shrugged a shoulder, averting his eyes. “The wanker had it comin’.”
“And you? Did you have it coming, too?”
Spike leveled her with a gaze. “My ribs aren’t broken.”
“That didn’t exactly answer my question, Spike.”
“Didn’ think it needed an answer. Seems to me you already got your mind made up about it.”
Buffy blew out a harsh breath, glancing up at the night sky. “You’re bound and determined to pick a fight with me, aren’t you? Is that what we are to each other? A familiar, verbal punching bag?”
They weren’t there at the end, but before… yeah, that’s exactly what they were to each other. She hadn’t wanted to let them be more. “Angel told me you were in Europe. Took me some time to figure out he was lying. When I did, I went to see him again and forced him to tell me where you were.
“Gotta say, lamb, I wasn’ expectin’ you to be here. Always thought you hated L.A.”
She lowered her head, meeting his eyes again. “I do, but Dawn wanted to see Dad and spend one last holiday season in the States. We flew in from Europe a week ago and are set to go back the day after New Year’s.”
“So where’s the Niblet then?”
“And your Dad?”
She smirked. “Staying at his girlfriend’s house in Malibu. He wanted to give Dawn and I our privacy while we’re here.” She scoffed. “He couldn’t wait to get out of here. You should have seen him. I think his bags were packed before our plane even landed at the airport.”
“Soddin’ bastard.” He settled onto the porch step next to her and leaned in to offer, “You say the word and he’s a footnote. I mean it, pet. I’ll make it look like a painful accident.”
Buffy laughed. “You said that once before, about Faith.”
And he’d bloody well meant it then, too. “You never said the word then.”
“No, and I won’t say it now, either. But thanks. It’s nice to know that if I want someone footnoted, you’ll be around to make it happen.”
He nodded and straightened up, picking at a speck of dirt near his Doc Martens. Hazel eyes burned into the side of his face; he didn’t meet them. “You, uh, ever think about it?” he asked, looking up as an amber motion light came on across the street. “Our little goodbye speech in the cave?”
A sharp intake of breath and a whispered ‘yes’ filled his ears. It was followed by the touch of her palm on the back of his hands, slender fingers threading through his. “I missed you, Spike. I know you might not believe me, but… I did.”
He glanced at her. “That the truth, pet? You really miss me?”
“Yes, it’s the truth.”
She swallowed, looking away from him. “I mourned you. I mourned you for days, weeks. Everyone thought I’d lost my mind, but… it wasn’t my mind that was lost. It was my heart.”
“No,” she said, letting go of his hand to cover his lips with her fingers. “Let me say this. Please. I need you to know how I felt, how I still feel.”
He nodded, reaching for her hand, and waited for her to continue. It didn’t take long.
“When I said I loved you, you were right, I didn’t mean it. Not then. Or I did, I just didn’t know that I meant it. Not until later. When I was alone and let myself remember the doubt in your eyes and the understanding, the love.” She turned toward him, her thin, cotton pant-covered knees brushing against his jean-clad thighs. “It hurt to know you weren’t there anymore, that I had nothing but a memory and an ugly ring to remember you by.”
She reached inside her shirt, pulled out a silver chain with a familiar skull ring attached to it—his skull ring, the one he’d given her when they were in love and under Red’s spell. “I’ve worn this every day since the cave-in. I couldn’t bring myself to take it off.
“I wanted to. Even told myself that I should. But every time I reached for the clasp, I remembered how you looked at me, how certain you were that I didn’t care, that I didn’t love you, that I couldn’t love you.”
She shook her head and fisted the ring with her palm. “You were wrong, Spike. I did care and I did love you. I still love you.”
He met her eyes then pulled his hand away from hers to stand and walk to the far edge of the porch, turning his back on her before she could know how much he wanted to believe in what she said. “Big difference between lovin’ someone and bein’ in love with them, pet.”
“I know that. Don’t you think I know that?” She scrambled to her feet, gripping him by the arm until he turned and met her gaze again. “You taught me what it meant to love someone, Spike. To want the best for them no matter how hard it was to let them go, to let them move on.”
He nodded, pulling his arm away. “I believe you when you say you loved me, pet. I didn’t then, when you said it, but I do now. But you don’t have to be in love with me to love me, Buffy.
“You and I, we did a lot together, a lot to each other, too. Doesn’ exactly make for the truest of loves, now does it?”
“No, but then that’s not why I love you.”
Spike closed his eyes, willed himself to ask the question he knew he shouldn’t ask. “And why is it you love me all of the sudden? Why is it you’re in love with me?”
“Because you let me be me, Spike. You’ve always, always let me be me. You’ve loved me despite my faults, despite my anger, despite my abuse. You’ve challenged me and supported me and been there with me through everything I ever needed you to be there for.
“You died for me,” she whispered softly, tearfully. “You put on an amulet we knew nothing about and you sacrificed yourself so that we could win, so that I could win.”
She reached for his chin and held it until he opened his eyes and looked at her again. “But that’s not really why I love you. That’s not why I fell in love with you.”
He arched an eyebrow. “So then tell me. Tell me why you suddenly love me?”
“But that’s just it, Spike. It’s not sudden. It’s been coming for a long, long time.”
She flattened on her hand on his cheek and smiled into his eyes. “When I say I love you, it’s not because I want you, though I do. It’s not because I can’t have you, either, though I know I can. It has nothing to do with me and everything to do with you.
“I love how you try, how you fight, how you get back up whenever you’ve been knocked down. I love how you laugh, how you joke, how you always stay even when we both know I deserve to have you go.” She leaned forward, kissing him softly on the lips and murmured, “But you want to know the real reason I love you? That I’m in love with you and I always will be?
“You waited for me, Spike. You gave me the space to make up my own mind, to make my own decision. Even before I lost you in the cave, you were holding back. You were giving without taking, sharing without getting… you were my anchor, William. You were my lover and my friend, my supporter and my protector. You had my back, even when I didn’t deserve for you to.
“How could I not be in love with you after that?”
Spike pulled back, pursing his lips in thought. “Well, when you put it like that, I’d be in love with me, too.” He smiled down at her, grabbing her hand when she made to smack him. “You do realize you robbed parts of my speech to you, right? But ’m not mad about it. Liked it, point of fact.”
“Oh you did, did you?”
“I did. Loved it almost as much as I love you.”
He captured her face between his palms, staring into her eyes with all the love he could muster from his heart. “I’m sorry I left you, pet. Wasn’ my intention to lie to you and break my promise, but I… I’m glad that I did it. I’m glad that our last night together ended the way it did, you falling asleep in my arms, letting me hold you again.
“Was a nice memory to take with me, even if it turns out I didn’t need it so much.”
He wiped her tears with his thumbs, smiling as she informed him, “I’m glad you didn’t need it, because now I have a chance to give you an even better one.”
“Think you can top that, do you? Gonna be a hard one. One of the best bloody nights of my life, it was.”
Buffy reached up, grasping his hand and lowering it from her face, her fingers once again entwining with his. “Oh, I think I can manage it.” She yanked on his hand, pulling him toward the door and when she opened it, stepping across its threshold, she smiled at him, firmly announcing, “Come in, Spike.”
He did and when she shut the door and wrapped her arms around him, he finally felt the peace his soul had craved for months. Grinning, Spike picked her up, carrying her toward the couch even as he whispered, ‘Hi, honey. I’m home,’ against her neck.
She giggled into his ear and for the first time since she said the words, he found himself believing them.
Buffy loved him, and more importantly, she wanted to be with him. Unlife didn’t get much better than that… or maybe it did. He’d have to see how he felt about it in the morning, when he woke up next to her knowing she finally loved him as he loved her.
“I do, Spike. I love you.”
“I know,” he said, lifting his head to look her in the eyes. “I love you, too, Slayer. Always have.” Well, maybe not always, but… a bloody damn sight longer than she’d loved him. Which only meant she had a lot of making up to do, didn’t it?
Spike lifted a questioning brow. “So, Slayer, how hard of a sleeper is the Niblet these days?”
“Why? Do you plan on taking advantage of me?”
He scoffed. “What? Pfft. No. I’m a bloody paragon of virtue. Would never even suggest such a thing as—”
Buffy kissed him, making him forget his argument and instead focus all of his attention on convincing her to do exactly as he told her he didn’t want to do… letting him take advantage of her, in the best, most carnal sense of the word.
A broken heart lies in the tattered remains of a haunted soul, but honest love has a way of healing them both, a fact which Spike is eternally grateful for tonight. After all, the course of true love never did run smooth. But as the proverb said, anything worth having is worth fighting for and being with Buffy was definitely worth it. It was worth everything… and a little bit more, too.
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