Chapter 1: Close Your Dreams
“As we close this nocturnal door, my love,/come with me, through the shadowy places./Close your dreams, Love, enter my eyes with your skies,/spread out through my blood like a wide river./Good-bye to the cruel daylight, which dropped/into the gunnysack of the past, each day of it./Good-bye to every ray of watches or of oranges./O shadow, my intermittent friend, welcome!/In this ship, or water, or death, or new life,/we are united again, asleep, resurrected:/we are the night’s marriage in the blood./I don’t know who it is who lives or dies, who rests or wakes,/but it is your heart that distributes/all the graces of the daybreak, in my breast.” ~Pablo Neruda, “Sonnet LXXXII”
“Mmm…tell me you don’t have to leave yet.”
“I’m all yours, luv.”
“For how long?”
“Forever, if you want me.”
“Of course.” Buffy snuggled up next to Spike, feeling his cool skin next to hers. “Forever is good.”
His hand cupped her ass, and she felt his arousal next to her thigh. “I think someone is ready to play.”
“I’m always ready to play—as long as it’s with you, pet.”
Buffy propped herself up on her elbow, looking down into Spike’s face, at his fair skin and bleached hair, his bright blue eyes that looked back at her with nothing but love. “I missed you.”
“Did you now?”
He didn’t respond with words, instead reaching up to run his fingers through her hair. She’d let it grow out long; Buffy knew how much he liked it that way. Their lips met in a kiss that was as sweet as it was bitter.
Too much time had been lost, too many opportunities.
“I love you.”
“I believe you,” he whispered against her lips.
Buffy’s eyes fluttered open, and her questing hand met empty space—again.
How many mornings in a row had she dreamt of Spike, reaching for him only to find that he was gone? Closing her eyes against the pain of his absence, Buffy rolled over and buried her face in her pillow.
People kept telling her that she needed to move on, but how was she supposed to do that when she saw him every time she closed her eyes?
There was only one cure for the grief and resulting ennui, she’d found—get up, get moving, start forgetting until the next dream reminded her of what she’d lost.
Buffy pulled the curtains, allowing the bright Roman sunlight to bathe her face before turning to strip the sheets from her bed. Simple, domestic tasks helped, maybe because she’d never shared them with Spike. They were hers and hers alone.
Dawn glanced at the clock as her sister emerged from her bedroom, seeing that it was just past noon, and Buffy was still in her favorite cotton pajamas. “Rough night?”
“I’m fine, Dawnie.” Her sister’s smile was forced, and there were dark circles under her eyes. “Really.”
“Do you want to go out tonight?” Dawn ventured. “We could get dessert. I’ve been dying for some of that chocolate cake at Steffi’s.”
Buffy poured herself a cup of coffee. “I’d like that.”
“We could invite Geoffrey. He’s been making googly eyes at you.”
“You can invite him,” Buffy countered. “I’m not interested in dating. Besides, I don’t think it’s me he’s interested in.”
Dawn scoffed at that, and quickly changed the subject. Her crush on the Watcher was not a subject she felt comfortable discussing, not when he appeared to only have eyes for her sister. “Spike would want you to move on, Buffy.”
“I’ve never done what Spike wanted.” Her sister gave her a tight-lipped smile. “I don’t see why I should start now.”
“You couldn’t have known that he was back.”
“No, I couldn’t, but I could have—” She stopped. “Forget it. I’m going to take a shower.” Buffy swept out of the room, leaving Dawn standing there, her heart in her stomach.
She knew what Buffy had meant, of course. It was nothing she hadn’t said in the alley in Los Angeles, and later when Faith had gotten her drunk. Dawn had been there for that, just to make sure that they didn’t get into trouble.
Someone had to be the designated driver, after all.
Looking back, Dawn didn’t think that Buffy would have allowed anyone but Faith to see her like that, maybe because Buffy didn’t care what Faith thought of her. Faith didn’t look up to her the way everyone else seemed to; they were equals in a way no one was.
No one else but Spike. Looking back, Dawn could see that, too.
She knew her sister was torn between anger that Spike hadn’t informed her that he was alive, and regret that he hadn’t known how very much she would want to know. “He didn’t believe me,” a drunken Buffy had mourned.
“Hadn’t believed what?” an equally drunken Faith had asked. Dawn had gathered that Faith had her own grief to bear over the deaths of Angel and Wesley.
“When I told him I loved him. He thought I only said it because he was dying! I’m not that nice!”
Looking back, Dawn could see the humor in the situation—black humor, anyway. Two Slayers, completely wasted, grieving over a couple of dusted vampires. And Dawn had been sipping her soda and mourning right along with them.
Dawn couldn’t get over how unfair it all was. Granted, life wasn’t fair, but the fact that Spike had been alive, and Buffy had been unaware of that, meant that they hadn’t been able to take advantage of the second chance they’d been given.
And Dawn wanted her sister to have a chance at happiness; maybe that didn’t require Spike’s presence, but his absence certainly wasn’t helping.
Her eyes narrowed as the glimmer of an idea came to her. What if she could get Spike back? The Scoobies had resurrected Buffy, and that had been a bad idea, but Buffy was a Slayer, and she’d been in heaven. Who knew where Spike was?
But Dawn was going to find out.
Buffy leaned against the white and black tiles, letting the hot water hit her back, wondering if she was going crazy. Maybe if he had stayed dead after closing the Hellmouth, or if she hadn’t known that he was back, she could have moved on.
But no. He’d been in L.A. for almost a year, and she’d been completely unaware and trying to date again—to regain some semblance of normalcy. She’d had a fling or two—the Immortal had been one of them—but it hadn’t felt right.
If she’d known that Spike was alive, she never would have attempted it. She would have gone to L.A. and dragged him back to Rome, or they could have gone somewhere else. Buffy would have convinced him that she’d meant what she said, and they could have tried again.
If Buffy had never been aware that he’d come back, she could have convinced herself that he’d known she loved him at the end.
There was just so much regret, so many things she would have done differently. Buffy wished she could have voiced her feelings just once.
She’d told Angel that Spike was in her heart; why couldn’t she have said those words to Spike before he was dying?
Buffy realized that the water was turning icy and turned off the shower.
“Buffy? I’m going to go out.”
Hearing Dawn’s voice, Buffy quickly wrapped a towel around herself and stuck her head out the bathroom door. “Do you still want to go to dinner tonight?”
Dawn shook her head. “I just got a call from Lucia. She’s having boy troubles, so I think gelato is in order.”
Buffy expertly hid her sense of relief. She really hadn’t wanted to go to dinner. “Be careful, Dawn. Call if you’re going to be out late, okay?”
Although Buffy had no interest in going out, the apartment was immediately too quiet after her sister had left. Her thoughts felt too heavy, the inside of her own head too much to bear.
She moved restlessly from the sofa to the large window that overlooked the courtyard to the fridge in the sunny kitchen. “This is stupid,” she announced to the empty living room. For some reason, just saying the words out loud helped, and Buffy took a deep breath.
What she really wanted was sex—Buffy wanted hot, sweaty, exhausting sex—but since she wasn’t going to get that, she might as well kill something. Maybe if she was tired enough, she would sleep again—and dream.
Dawn knew from experience that Buffy wouldn’t be budged when she was moping; it was a lot easier to take matters into her own hands and possibly enlist some help.
Two years after moving off the Hellmouth, Dawn was discovering that the last thing she wanted was to leave that life behind, even if Buffy would prefer that she forget everything she ever knew about monsters and magic.
Although she enjoyed her university classes, Dawn hadn’t left her research into the supernatural behind. And she knew exactly who might help her.
Dawn smiled when she saw that the brass “4” on the scarred wooden door was hanging askew and knocked briskly. “Hi,” she greeted Lucia as she stepped inside.
“What’s going on?” Lucia closed the door behind her and followed Dawn to the couch. “You said that your sister was troubled.”
Dawn took a deep breath, unsure of how best to broach the subject. “I’m wondering what you know about inter-dimensional travel.”
Lucia frowned, shoving her dark, shaggy hair out of her eyes. “Not much. No one does.”
“Do you have any books on the subject?”
“What’s this about, Dawn?”
She tugged on her blue tank top. “I told you about Spike and Buffy, right?”
“Your sister’s long-lost love, of course.”
“I want to bring him back.”
Lucia didn’t appear to be all that surprised, and maybe she wasn’t. Dawn had met the other girl during her first class at university, and they had hit it off almost immediately, possibly because Lucia’s mother worked for the Rome branch of Wolfram & Hart.
That was something that Dawn hadn’t bothered telling anyone. It was too nice to have someone to talk to who would understand her freaky life and didn’t think of her as Buffy’s kid sister.
That was why Lucia was the only person Dawn had told about her hopeless crush on the local Watcher, just as Dawn was the first person Lucia had told about her father—a priest who knew her as nothing more than a parishioner.
Lucia leaned back, letting out a breath. “You do reach for the moon, don’t you?”
“This is my sister’s happiness we’re talking about.” Dawn grinned. “Besides, it’s a challenge, isn’t it?”
“I can help,” Lucia finally said. “What you’re asking for is close to impossible. You have to know that.”
“But we can try.”
“I can point you in the right direction,” Lucia finally said. “And perhaps get you some of the ingredients that you need.”
“That’s all I want. I can’t ask anyone else.”
“You know there’s a chance that things could go terribly wrong, right?” Lucia asked. “You open a dimensional portal, trying to find one person, you might end up getting someone else altogether.”
“It’s a risk I’m willing to take.”
Lucia’s lips pursed, her dark eyes regarding Dawn thoughtfully. “Are you certain this doesn’t have more to do with your own regret?”
The other woman grinned, appreciating her honesty. “Fair enough. Shall we begin?”
Spike’s lips curled up into a smile as he peered through the Summers’ front window. Buffy was standing over Dawn, watching her do homework. He couldn’t quite hear their argument, but he could guess that it was about Dawn going out with a boy. It usually was.
If he waited long enough, Buffy would emerge from the house, and he would follow her out on patrol.
Leaning back against the tree, Spike lit up a cigarette and took a long drag. He typically got through two fags before the Slayer made an appearance.
It looked like it was just going to be one tonight.
“Waiting for me again?”
“Thought you might want some company on patrol.”
“I guess so.”
“What were you and the Nibblet arguin’ about?”
“I thought I told you not to listen at doors.”
“You didn’t say anything about looking through windows.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Spike—” She stopped. “Come on.”
It was a victory, if only a small one. Spike knew he was wearing her down, and eventually he would get that crumb.
The creaking of the crypt door had Spike reaching for his crossbow and rolling out of bed automatically. He slept with his clothes on these days; he had too many enemies who knew where he could be found.
And if pressed, Spike knew he likely wouldn’t be able to offer an explanation as to why he hadn’t moved.
Footsteps echoed above him, and he pressed back against the walls, trying to melt into the shadows. “Spike?”
The sound of Dawn’s voice startled him; he hadn’t thought she’d come around again after the last time he’d seen her. Spike remained silent, however. Maybe he wasn’t evil, but that didn’t mean he was good either. It would be better for the both of them if he cut all ties.
After a long few minutes, he heard footsteps echo again, and the door creaked to a close. Spike slumped, filled with the same self-loathing that had haunted him since Buffy’s death.
He hadn’t been able to save her, he hadn’t been able to keep his promise, and he hadn’t been able to return to his old ways. He seemed to be trapped in some kind of limbo, and he had a feeling that only death—the permanent sort—would release him.