She was so tired, more tired than she had ever been. Unable to sleep on the plane like she had planned, she let her mind wander back over the last few months, but not too far, not to the losing of …him. That was still too painful. She had switched to type-A mode after the First had been defeated and charged ahead with helping Giles and the new slayers. It was so much easier to stay busy and just not think. Just not feel.
There had been so much to do, still so much to do. Giles was forming a new Watchers Council and needed her help along with Willow and Xander. Instead of being a resource agency, it would now be an agency for all slayers and their watchers to learn and stay connected, Sort of like the X-men school for the gifted, she thought. Giles and what was left of the scooby gang went to England after they had healed their wounds. There were so many new slayers to train and educate. It seemed overwhelming, but she welcomed the activity, it kept her from thinking, most of the time.
Now, she was on her way to L.A.. with Dawn; to help her enroll in UCLA ,where she planned to start college in the fall.
“Buffy, can we go straight to the campus when we land?” asked Dawn.
“No Dawn, we need to get settled at the hotel and then tomorrow we’ll go tour UCLA.”
“Why?” whined Dawn.
“Because were tired and …tired,” explained Buffy for the hundredth time.
“Fine!” huffed Dawn as she looked out the window. A few silent moments passed then Dawn asked, ” Do you think Angel will meet us at the airport?”
“Not likely, what with the landing at two in the afternoon. He’s not big with the daytime meetings,” said Buffy.
“Oh yeah,” replied Dawn as she went back to looking out the window leaving Buffy to her thoughts.
The mention of Angel brought all the recent events rushing back, not that they we far from the surface at any point.
Angel, her first love. Thinking of him brought a mix of smiles and tears. She knew she would always love him and that he would always be there for her, but that nasty curse would forever keep them apart. No, not just the curse if the truth were told. They had drifted apart over the last few years. He had his life in L.A. and she had hers. They would always be a part of each other’s lives but not the main part, and she was okay with that. Someday when she was finished baking…. God what was she thinking when she came up with that analogy, she would find someone to share her life.
Spike. Why did she always think of him when she thought of the future? Only there was no future because there was no Spike.
Her eyes filled with tears that she tried to hold back. Dawn so did not need to she her weepy again. If her sis noticed she didn’t say anything. Thank goodness. Still couldn’t talk about….him, not yet.
It had been six months; 147 days since he died. Why did that sound so familiar? Then it hit her like a firm slap in the face.
“How long was I gone?” Buffy had asked.
“147 days yesterday, 148 days today, only today doesn’t count.” Spike had replied.
Spike. There was so much she would change if she had it to do over. Physically drag him out of that damn cave…..and save him for one. Just as Spike had told her he had saved her every night so had she -every night, lots of different ways, more clever, faster.
And she would have made him believe her when she told him, “I love you.” She would have done so many things different, but like Scarlet, she chose to think of these things tomorrow, too painful today.
The plane landed. Buffy and Dawn went to baggage pick-up. Standing next to their luggage was a petite brunette with a sign that read: BUFFY and DAWN. The sisters slowly walked up to her.
“Hello” said Buffy, “We’re Buffy and Dawn. Who are you?”
“Hi, I’m Fred, I work for Angel.”
” Oh yeah, I remember your name.”
“Angel sent me to pick you guys up and take you to the hotel,” Fred replied as she picked up a suitcase. ” After you’re rested he wants you to come to the office,” Fred said looking at Buffy.
Buffy still couldn’t get used to Angel having offices at Wolfman and Hart. It just seemed wrong, but Angel usually knew what he was doing.
“Thanks” replied Buffy, thankful details had been taken care of by someone else.
Angel sat at his desk enjoying the sunlight at his back. He doubted he would ever get used to that sensation. There was so much to get used too lately. Sunlit offices, secretaries, his own building, access to Wolfman and Hart resources, Cordy’s coma and Spike. All in all, the last one was the hardest to comprehend.
Spike had just appeared at his office one day about a month ago.
“Hello, Peaches,” He smirked.
Angel knew that voice even before he looked up and saw him leaning against the doorway.
“Spike!” Angel exclaimed with a voice alittle too high.
“The one and only” again with the smirk.
“How…what…how…” Angel stammered, sounding a lot like Xander.
“Don’t rightly know all the details, thought you could help me figure that out, what with your intimate contact with the “powers that be” and all.”
“You died” Angel stated, still in shock but at least his voice was back to normal.
“That I did” Spike said as he sauntered in and took a seat. “And man what a rush”he said as he smiled.
“How the hell did you get out of that cave and what are you doing here?” Angel asked.
“Well, I didn’t exactly get out of the cave.” Spike said slowly so Angel could comprehend. “I did ‘dissolve’ for lack of a better word, but I didn’t exactly end.”
“Look, I don’t know what really happen. I just remember feeling my soul burning bright and filling me.” He ran his fingers through his white-blonde hair, not knowing how to word an experience beyond words.
Spike leapt out of the chair and began pacing, unable to sit still.
“There was a bright light…. not a tunnel though,” looking pointingly at Angel, “and I was in a…. space, not really a room but a..a..space….of light is all I can describe. I was at peace like I had never known, no pain, no demon urges, no…. hurting, just peace.” Spike paused as if in thought. Angel let him take his time, he could tell it was as hard for Spike to tell as it was for him to believe it. “There was this voice, not that I heard but rather felt.” Spike explained as he remembered the experience.
“Your journey is not complete,” it said.
“What bloody journey?” asked Spike.
“The journey you began when you fell in love.”
“Love!” Spike questioned, “I’m not in love with anybody.”
“It’s a journey you began three years ago but you won’t remember now.” The voice explained.
“Why won’t I remember?”
“We erased your guilt over your past deeds, and your pain over…her.” The voiced explained.
Back in the moment, Spike shook his head.
“That’s all I know.” He said. “That and I was suppose to come to you.” Spike answered, not too happy with the thought.
“What for?” asked Angel equally not thrilled.
“Well, I don’t bloody know, do I?” responded Spike.
“Let me get this straight,” began Angel, “you died and got sent to a ‘room of light’ where a ‘voice’ told you that you had a journey unfinished and that ‘I’ was supposed to help?”
“‘Bout it.” Spike responded as he sat back down.
“And you don’t remember anything about Buffy?” asked Angel.
“Buffy? Who or what is a Buffy?” asked Spike totally clueless.
Angel ran his fingers through his hair in exasperation. How much should he tell Spike. He needed answers and he needed them now.
“Look Spike, I’ll see what I can find out about your…experience.” Angel said, hoping Spike would not want to go into details, especially about Buffy. At least not until he had some answers. “What else do you remember about your past. Obviously you remember me.”
“Everything, I think. I mean I remember getting turned, Dru, you , and Darla. It’s strange, I remember the killing but I don’t feel bad about it. It’s like it happened to me but not me.” Spike said. “Look maw, no guilt.” Spike quipped.
“And how do you think you died?” asked Angel.
“Well, that part is abit foggy. I remember helping to save the world but I don’t know why I was helping. I remember a cave and a bunch of scary-arse vamps and just knew it was something I had to do.” Spike explained, knowing it probably didn’t make sense. Angel knew he had to ask but wasn’t sure he wanted to know the answer.
“So what are you now?”
” Well, it appears I’m sorta human.” Spike said.
“Well, I’m not a vamp anymore, can’t get into vamp-face or want to feed, but I still have vamp speed and senses. Kinda like a souped up version. An upgrade!” Spike said as he smiled at his own joke.
Angel felt ill as the realization dawned on him. Shanshu. Spike has achieved Shanshu. His Shanshu. If he disliked the guy before he really hated him now. First he had Buffy and a soul and saved the world and then was rewarded his Shanshu as prophesied. He couldn’t deal with this now.
“Look Spike, get settled. Amy will help with a room. I’ll see what I can find out and we’ll talk later.”
“Fine, I’m still alittle tucker anyway.” Spike said as he followed the secretary out the door, leaving a bewildered Angel behind.
The waiting and doing nothing was getting to him. How long would it take that bloody pouf to find some answers? He had been stuck in this bleeding apartment for weeks, waiting for that wanker to find out something. At first he had spent the time getting use to his new ‘human’ body. He had not seen his reflection in over a hundred years. He still looked good, he thought. Maybe not so much with the hair. Billy Idol was so eighty’s. That was when he had decided to go with a whole new look, to go with the whole new life. He had changed his hair to a more nature ash blonde. Now that he could get out in the sun, maybe some sun-bleached highlight too. The basic style was the same, combed straight back but alittle looser and with a slight curl at the ends. Nice, he thought.
His wardrobe changed as well. He found he still preferred the basic black but with a more updated look. Black cargo pants and fitted shirts in deep rich colors appealed to him now. Angel had put him on retainer so he had money to indulge his new sense of style.
He started going to the office everyday hoping Angel would have some answers but the pouf sure was taking his time. To keep busy he helped Wesley with research. He really had tons of knowledge and was quite intellenge but it usually suited his purpose not to let anyone know. You would be surprised what you could find out if people thought they were smarter than you were. Angel being one. Did Angel really think he didn’t know what was going on? He could smell the dislike and jealousy over his new life. A life that Angel was supposed to have but Spike now enjoyed.
He slipped his thigh-length black leather coat on and headed to the door. Angel had told him not to come to the office today, for some reason. Never did like being told what to do, so all the more reason to go.
“Mr. Angel?” the secretary asked over the intercom.
“Yes Maria.” answered Angel.
“Miss Buffy Summers is here to see you”
“Thank you, Maria. Send her in.” Angel replied as he released the intercom button and stood to welcome Buffy.
She was still the most beautiful woman he had ever known, in spite of the fatigue evident around her eyes. Buffy walked in and went easily into Angel’s waiting embrace.
“I’ve missed you.” She said as she gave him a quick squeeze.
“I’ve missed you, too.” Angel replied as he breathed in the smell of her, that blend of vanilla and soap.
“You told me you had moved up in the world…but,” startled she pulled back from the embrace and realized that the room was sun-filled and Angel was not in flames.
“Why aren’t you like….toast?” she asked.
“Not all toast is burned Buffy.” Angel joked as he smiled down at her.
“You know what I mean, why aren’t you all on fire-ry?”
“One of the perks of the job,” Angel replied as he showed her to a seat. “It’s a special glass that is vampire-friendly.”
“Cool” Buffy returned, suddenly a little self-conscious in front of him. It was strange to see him in the sunlight. Almost normal, only things between her and Angel had never been normal. Looking down at her lap she replied, “Thanks for having Fred pick us up at the airport and for the hotel. That helped a lot.”
“My pleasure,” Angel replied wondering why the sudden shyness. “Is everything okay, Buffy?”
“Sure, why wouldn’t it be” she shrugged. “I just empowered thousands of new slayers, defeated the First, blew up Sunnydale and now you’re all UVA-protected.” Not to mention losing the man I love, she thought.
“All in a days work, right?” Angel said softly trying to make her feel comfortable.
Buffy smiled. This was Angel. Why would sunlight make any difference to him. He was the same man that he had always been. She relaxed and asked, “What’s new with you? I mean since we talked last.”
Angel had already told her about the deal with Wolfram and Hart, Cordelia and Connor. “Nothing new, recently.” He sure wasn’t going to tell her about Spike. The way he figured it as long as she thought he was dead and Spike didn’t remember her then the less said all the better. He had made sure Spike didn’t come to the office today. He didn’t want the two of them running into each other.
Suddenly the door to the office opened and in walked Spike.
Oh great! This is all I need, thought Angel.
“Hello Peaches, thought I would pop in say Hi.” he smirked at Angel then noticed the very pale, petite blonde sitting on the sofa.
Before he could say anything else, Buffy jumped to her feet and did something she had never before done in her life …she fainted.
“Wake up cutie”, Spike said as he smoothed the hair behind her ear, not knowing this was a gesture he had done so many times before.
Buffy was lying on the sofa with a cool cloth on her forehead. Eyes closed. Spike was kneeling beside her with a concerned look on his face. Angel was getting a glass of water from the bar.
There was something about this beautiful woman that pulled to him but he didn’t know what it was. He looked down at her peaceful face and thought she was perfect. Angel was a lucky man to have a girlfriend who looked like this, he thought.
Angel brought the glass of water over to her. What was he going to do now? He had to buy some time.
“Spike? Would you mind leaving the two of us alone for a while?”
“Oh ….right.” He said as he stood up to leave. “I hope the little bird will be all right.”
“I’m sure she will. She’s just tired from the flight. Probably hasn’t eaten today.” Angel replied as he ushered Spike to the door.
Spike left reluctantly and Angel returned to the sofa to find Buffy beginning to stir.
“Are you okay?” asked Angel, knowing he had a lot of explaining to do.
Buffy sat up slowly, still a little dizzy. “Yeah I think so. What happened?” Before Angel could answer Buffy remembered what had happened. “Did I just see…..Spike?” she asked.
” Yes.” Was all he could reply.
“How is that possible?”
“We’re not sure. He just showed up one day looking for answers.”
As the shock slowly wore off, Buffy became furious. “And when were you going to tell me?” she asked in a slow steel-cold voice.
Angel recognized this tone and scrambled to explain,”Look Buffy, we’re still trying to figure all this out and I just wanted some answers before I told you.”
Buffy stood up to leave. Angel grabbed her arm to stop her. “Where are you going?”
“I have to find him and talk to him!” Buffy exclaimed as millions of emotions swirled inside her.
“Buffy, there’s something you don’t understand.”
“I don’t understand a lot of things, mainly who made you the king who could decide what I did or did not know.” Buffy said angrily.
“Buffy, please sit down and listen. I’ll tell you what I know.” Angel knew he had to tell her the truth.
He told her about how Spike just showed up one day and about the room of light and the voice. He had also told her that Spike was now human; in a way, trying hard to keep the jealousy out of his voice. What he had not told her was that Spike did not remember her. He wasn’t sure how.
“This is unbelievable,” said Buffy as a smile began on her face. “Spike’s alive!” It felt like a weight had been lifted. She had to see him. Go to him. To see for herself. She got up off the sofa and headed determinably toward the door.
“Wait, there’s more,” said Angel sadly. As jealous as he was of Spike, he never wanted to hurt Buffy.
She could tell from his voice that ‘the more’ was a lot more. She sat back down on the sofa needing to know but at the same time dreading to hear what Angel had to say.
“What is it Angel? Is he sick? Or is he crazy again like he was when he first got his soul?” asked Buffy, searching for answers.
There was only one way to tell her and that was to just do it. “He doesn’t remember you.” He said so softly that Buffy had a hard time hearing him.
Confused she asked, “What do you mean, he doesn’t remember me?”
“The ‘powers that be’ or who ever sent Spike back erased his memory of you.”
Buffy’s brow frowned in confusion. “You mean he doesn’t remember things or just me?”
“Just you sweetheart.” Angel answered softly, trying to be as easy as possible.
This was impossible. Why would ‘they’ erase her from his memory? If Angel was correct, Spike had been rewarded for his sacrifice by returning him to life as a human. Why would his memory of her not be part of that reward? Buffy’s face fell as she figured it out. She had caused him so much pain over the last three years that his reward was not to remember that pain; or her.
Buffy started crying. Angel gathered her in his arms and held her. He let her cry till the sobs were reduced to sniffles. She slowly lifted her head and her red rimmed eyes and looked at him. “What do I do now? Pretend he doesn’t matter just because I don’t matter to him?
“I don’t know. I haven’t been able to get any answers on what is going on. ‘They’ told him his journey wasn’t finished but failed to tell what he was suppose to do.”
“Why did he come to you?”
“He was told to. And besides where else would he go?” answered Angel.
“Well I’m going to get some answers!” exclaimed Buffy as she headed toward the door.
“Where are you going?”
“To see Mr. Amnesia guy,” she replied, slamming the door on her way out.
Spike hit the punching bag so hard the seam opened near the top and sawdust sprinkled to the floor. Bugger this, he thought. Running his fingers through his hair in frustration and began pacing in a small circle in the gym. What the hell was wrong with him? Why did meeting that ‘slip’ of a girl affect him so? And the thought of her with Angel made him want to heave. He was sure he had never met her before but at the same time he had this vague need to be with her.
He had gone to the gym to work off the frustration he felt after the meeting in Angel’s office. A vigorous workout would do him good, he thought. Besides now that he had a mortal human body, he had to keep in shape. He still wasn’t sure of the details of his return or the limits of his body but he definitely didn’t want to take a chance and go all soft.
Buffy stood outside the doorway watching Spike. She had seen the poor punching bag’s demise and now watched him pace in frustration. He looked so good. Hair all mussed. Sweating. Shirt off. Shirt off was definitely a good thing.
Spike had been so caught up in his thoughts that at first he had not sensed her standing at the door. Her voiced startled him and his head snapped up to look into her clear hazel eyes.
“I think you won,” said Buffy as she smiled at him and walked into the room.
“Won?” asked Spike, confused.
“The bag never had a chance.” She smiled.
“Bag?” Surprised, he was reduced to one syllable words.
“Yeah- Sugar Ray,” she said as she tilted her head toward the leaking punching bag.
Embarrassed he smiled as he turned to reach for a towel. “It put up a good fight though,” he quipped.
The room became very quiet. Neither one knew what to say next.
“How ya feeling, pet?” he asked
“Fine….just hadn’t eaten today. Low blood sugar I guess.”
Awkward silence filled the room. Unsure what to do next, Buffy walked to the ruined punching bag and idly played with the frayed seam. She wanted to go to him, kiss him and tell him how much she loved him, but she also knew she had to take it slow. It would be pretty strange for him to have someone he had never met, suddenly jump into his arms.
All he wanted to do is take her in his arms and kiss her. It would be pretty strange for her to have someone she had never met, suddenly grab her and kiss her passionately. Besides this was Angel’s girl. In the past, this reason alone would have been enough for him to act on his impulse, but now it just didn’t seem right.
“You’ve known the great pouf long, have you?” asked Spike.
Buffy smiled at the nickname. “Yes, for several years.” She paused, “We used to date.”
“Used too…but not now?” asked Spike hopefully.
She wasn’t sure but could that be interest she heard? “We broke up a few years ago but have remained friends,” she explained.
“Nice to know,” he replied as a smile appeared on his face. “So… just friends is it?” he asked as he tilted his head in that familiar questioning way of his.
He was definitely interested, she thought. Now, how to proceed without spooking him with all the details of their past. She wanted him to remember her but she could do without the memory of the bad times. Maybe she could make him fall in love with her all over again and make new memories, a new beginning.
“Just friends. Free and single. Just a girl all available.” There! How’s that for an opening?
“Well then,” he said softly as he slowly came near her and stopped a few inches away. “That makes two of us, don’t it?” he smiled. “Available….I mean…not the girl part,” he corrected.
“Twos a good number,” she stammered as she leaned in, losing herself in his crystal blue eyes
Their lips were inches apart. Eyes locked on each other. Each wanting something but not sure where to go from here.
“Ah hum” Angel cleared his throat as he stood in the doorway. Breaking the mood, Spike and Buffy separated. Embarrassed, Buffy looked down at her shoes. Spike just glared at Angel, irritated at his sire for ruining the moment.
“I hate to interrupt,” not really meaning it, “But, I might have some information on blonde-boys situation. If you two can ‘spare’ the time to ome to my office,” he said sarcastically as he turned and left the room.
Buffy and Spike looked at each other. This thing between them would have to wait. Right now they needed answers. Reluctantly Spike put his shirt on and he and Buffy headed to Angel’s office.
Spike opened the door to Angel’s office. He and Buffy entered and were greeted by Angel and an attractive brunette.
“Come in you two. Glad you could tear yourself away,” he replied sarcastically. “I would like you to meet Lilah.”
Lilah rose from her seat and shook hands with Buffy and Spike. “Glad to finally meet both of you.”
“Finally?” asked Buffy.
“Oh, I’ve heard a lot about you …slayer.” She turned to Spike and smiled. “And you gorgeous, I’m definitely glad to met you.”
Spike returned the smile as Buffy glared at Lilah. “And who might you be, luv?” asked Spike, enjoying Buffy’s discomfort.
“Just an employee of Wolfram and Hart, or rather a representative of the firm.” She grinned at her own joke.
Angel interrupted and instructed everyone to have a seat. “First of all, Lilah is here to help. She has access to information of a reliable but questionable source concerning ‘Spikey’ here.”
“So…you know what’s going on then?” asked Spike anxiously.
Lilah began pacing before her captive audience. “Well kiddies it appears that Spike here has gone and done a noble thing.”
“Do you know something we don’t know?” asked Buffy snidely. She really didn’t like this woman.
“Quite a lot actually,” replied Lilah smiling. “But back to the issue at hand. Certain…’powers’ have informed me that Spike’s situation is the result not only of his noble act but the actions of others as well.”
“What others?” asked Buffy.
“Are these ‘powers’ the mysterious ‘powers that be’?” asked Spike.
“Not even remotely,” laughed Lilah. “These ‘powers’ know more about the dark than the light side.”
“So.. I was brought back by that ….darkness?” asked Spike, not wanting to believe any of this.
“No… they didn’t bring you back, they just know some details.”
“Tell me what you know,” instructed Spike, anxious but he needed to know.
Buffy reached over and gently took his hand. “It will be all right, Spike.” She smiled softly at him.
He looked down at their entwined fingers and was comforted. He had just met her but there was something familiar about her touch. Looking up to her face he returned her smile and gently squeezed her hand.
“The ‘powers that be’ did bring you back to life and reward you with a mortal-human body. They also returned you with ‘enhanced’ skills. What’s the point of being just a regular everyday man when you have been used to….certain ‘talents’.” Lilah looked suggestively at Spike. “Supposedly you are to use these talents to ‘fight evil’ and ‘help the helpless’, or some nonsense like that,” she replied with a faint look of disgust.
“I was brought back to be Angel the second?” asked Spike with a look of horror on his face.
For the first time Angel spoke up. “As if you could,” he replied equally horrified.
“Could too!” snapped Spike.
“Stop it! Both of you!” exclaimed Buffy, irritated with the juvenile outburst. “We need answers not grade school bickering.”
Both men looked away, embarrassed.
Buffy returned her attention to Lilah. “You said others…the action of others. What others?”
“That is up to Spike to find out,” Lilah replied smiling. She loved to keep them on the edge of their seats.
Not being one for games, Spike jumped up and grabbed Lilah by the throat. “Quit with the riddles, pet and give me what I need to know.”
Even if he couldn’t get into game-face anymore, he was still threatening. “Okay,” croaked Lilah. “Just lay off the neck. It’s still a little sore from a recent accident.”
Spike released her and sat down in the chair.
Rubbing her neck, she continued. “Spikes journey to salvation began long before he got his soul. He helped others and did good even without a soul or a conscience.”
Angel interrupted, “He only did that to get in good graces with …”
Buffy stopped him from finishing the sentence. “Spike did do a lot of good back then even when he was ‘the big bad’,” she smiled at Spike and continued, “but, how do ‘others’ fit into all this?”
“It is those others that started him on that path. You see no one exists by themselves. We all interact and influence each other.” Looking at Buffy she smiled, “The people he cared about and loved changed him. They made the man in him stronger than the monster. Just as you were a better slayer because of your friends and family; Spike was a better man because of you and your friends…and your love.”
Spike had sat there listening, trying to understand. He looked at Buffy and desperately wanted to remember. Buffy saw the puzzled look and kneeled down in front of him. She knew she had to be honest with him even if it hurt. Taking his face gently in her hands she looked into his confused and troubled eyes and smiled. “Spike…luv, it doesn’t matter if you remember me or not. I love you and I’ll wait till as long as it takes for you to love me back. Just like you did for me.”
Tears started in each of their eyes as they sat quietly locked in each others gaze. Angel had realized that he and Buffy were not meant to be together a long time ago and it still hurt, but the most important thing for her to be happy and if Spike made her happy he would not stand in the way. He quietly took Lilah’s arm and the two of them left the office and closed the door.
Spike could hardly believe that she loved him, but it was right there on her face. He hesitantly leaned toward her to kiss her, closed his eyes and whispered, “…you’re the one.” She closed her eyes and met him with a gentle tentative kiss that quickly became passionate as emotions overcame any reservations they might have had. This was their new life. A slayer that had a chance for a normal life and the man that was her equal.