Sometimes it doesn’t hurt that he’s gone. A whole year since she last saw him and maybe it shouldn’t – but sometimes it really doesn’t. Because sometimes it doesn’t feel like Spike’s gone. Because he isn’t gone. He’s just away. Because this happens to her. Guy and girl come to nice happy complacent place in their relationship, guy leaves, and then guy eventually comes back a while later with a happy new life just when said girl’s feeling her lowest. And ok, technically her and Angel weren’t at the happiest or complacent..est…of places when he left. And he hadn’t so much ‘left’ as…’beenrammedtohellwithasword’. And he wasn’t exactly the happiest, or sanest, when he came back. But he did come back. So sometimes it was easy for her to believe that Spike was just away, and not gone.
Sometimes it feels like he’s still alive. Especially this one night in particular. One night during one weekend when Dawn had been at a friends. She was at a club with then boyfriend number you’re-just-filling-the-void. This one called himself “The Immortal”, and he if hadn’t been such a good fuck she’d probably have drop-kicked him the second she first woke up in his bed. This one night, though, at this one club, she was dancing. Dancing and having fun and living. And then a wave of familiarity washed over her, and she felt him. She felt Spike in the room. Slayer-defined tinglies coursed through her body, the thin hair lining her neck stood up on end, and in a shiver, goosebumps covered her arms. And he was there, in that one club on that one night. Only, he wasn’t. Because he couldn’t be. Couldn’t be because he died.
Sometimes the actuality of his death hit her so hard it threatened to consume her. Even after the mourning. Even with the acceptance. Even though life went on. Even though she moved on. Sometimes she had to fight to not be overcome by it.
Overcome by memories and what-could-have-been’s. Wondering what it would’ve been like to kiss his lips between breathed confessions of “I love you”. What it would’ve been like to say those words to him and have him say it back. To see his face light up as the weight of those words hit him. To be together, really together. To be free with it all. To not be ashamed, to not care if her friends saw how truly connected they were.
And sometimes, like now, she thought she actually saw him. She’d be out on the streets, cruising for the latest sale, and she’d see a blonde-haired anyone and for an instance, it’d be him. And then reality would come crashing through her distorted visions and of course it wouldn’t be him. But now, this night, she sees him. In a graveyard, of course. On patrol, of course. Except, she laughs bitterly to herself, he’s dead. In the sense that he was no longer in existence, not just the walking undead. A small pile of dust in the greater scheme of dust that makes up what once was Sunnydale.
Except her body is betraying her, because the familiar tingling is pulsing through her, solidifying the presence of a vampire that doesn’t exist anymore. And this Spike, this apparition of her former lover, is standing now in front of her, smiling at her. Of course he is. The shyest of smiles etched on his face. He opens his mouth, and accented words fall out of it. “Hello, luv,” he says. Right, because if by some freakish rift in reality Spike was actually standing there alive in front of her, the words that he’d first speak would be something as simple and seemingly insignificant as, “Hello, luv.” No, he’d make with the dramatic. Waggle the eyebrow – the scarred one, while smugly declaring the miraculous return of the Big Bad. He’d saunter over to her, running one hand through his platinum locks while the other raised a lit cigarette to his mouth. He wouldn’t just drop a casual, “Hello” on her.
She sighs frustratedly, closes her eyes and shakes her head. Bye bye Spikey, nice seeing you. You look good, same as always though. She clears her mind, ready to continue on with her jaunt through the cemetery. She may not be the One And Only Chosen One anymore, but a Slayer is she. Still with a sacred duty to protect the innocent, rid the world of evil, and divert the annual Apocalypse. And ok, she still gets off a little from the fight. Opening her eyes, she expects the world to right itself. To be met with night and an empty graveyard. Instead, he’s still there. Great, never had that happen before. Fine, I can ignore this, she sighs to herself. Afterall, it’s not like I’ve never patrolled before with Spike lagging behind me thinking I didn’t notice. She sighs again, folding her hands across her chest in a patented stance her Spike would know all too well, and steps to go around this ghost of him.
But oh god, this Spike, this fake Spike of some wishful-thinking dream, is looking up at her with such a wounded gaze that it freezes her. Burns through her as she, for just an instance, allows herself to believe that it’s really him. She pauses, catches her breath before she meets his gaze. “You’re not real,” she tells him quietly. You can’t be real. We left you for dead. A year ago. People, or vampires…they don’t just come back. They can’t. Except why the hell is he not going away. And why the hell can she smell him. The familiar scent of cigarettes, leather, booze, and sex, and it’s all so…Spike. How can it be so overwhelmingly real, when he’s not? And those hairs standing up on the back of her neck, and the ever-present goosebumps. All of it tricking her into believing in his presence.
“You’re not real,” she says again louder, her voice hitched as the words get caught in her throat. And god, that pained look he gives her again. The way his eyes must mirror hers, searching for a truth, a sign, a flicker of vulnerability.
“Buffy,” he calls out softly as he steps toward her. That one word slams into her, and she instinctively takes two steps backwards. And this Spike, this not her Spike in front of her, flinches as she forcefully moves away from him. He flexes his jaw, meets her gaze with warm blue eyes that look so full of pain it physically hurts her, and then he hesitantly steps closer again. And this time, she doesn’t move backwards. Even though every nerve in her small frame is screaming at her to. Even though her muscles ache to be set in motion and the voice in her head yells at her to turn around and flee, she stays. This isn’t Spike, so if she stays, then what? She stays and possibly has a conversation with the memory of someone who once existed? Ok, running feels like a more sane option.
Except she doesn’t run away, she does the opposite. Her fashionably covered feet step forward, even as that voice in her head screams at her to step back. “Not real” becomes a weakening thought as his eyes momentarily light up. He smiles down at her so sweetly she forgets that he’s not supposed to be there. Eyes so gentle and so trusting and so alive, and she forgets that he can’t be there. He steps again closer. His body shifts under the weight of his duster, and she can hear it as it moves against the rough fabric of his jeans, the smell of the leather engulfing her. Musk and smoke, and alcohol, and…
“Spike?” she whispers to herself, or maybe out loud, because there’s this flicker of acknowledgement in his eyes, and in a flash of blonde hair and black leather, before her delayed Slayer instincts can kick in, he’s holding her. For the briefest of instances, everything ceases to exist, and then it all comes crashing down on her. Solidness, and the most comforting coldness enveloping her…