Author’s Notes: Inspired by and writtern for calturner.
Chapter 1: Things Unexpected
The streets of Rome were quiet as Buffy window-shopped the closed stores. She and Dawn used to do this before Dawn left for the Sorbonne. If they looked when the stores weren’t open, they couldn’t buy. Saved a lot of denaro that way. Marco used to indulge her in this too, until the night she killed four demons who were robbing a negozio . As he wiped their guts off his pristine suit, Marco informed Buffy that he would humor her slaying hobby, but that he would appreciate it if she would refrain from acting on her impulses while in his company. After she calmed down from the “hobby” crack, Buffy did humor him. For about a week. But hey , she thought now. How many women can say the Immortal was their transitional guy?
Buffy touched the cool glass of the store window. She’d been in Rome two years now. With Dawn at college and Andrew back in England working for the Council, basically, there was nothing holding her here. The whole “finding herself” gig was getting old. Old and lonely.
She gently pushed away from the window and continued down the cobblestone street. Her boot heels made loud clicking sounds as she walked, but just a block away from her apartment, she stopped. She’d heard a noise. And those little hairs on the back of her neck were standing straight up—she could feel them. Maybe tonight won’t be a total loss after all , Buffy thought as she slid a stake out from under her leather jacket.
She whirled around, ready to dust a bumpy-faced creature but froze when she saw who it was. His hair was a darker blond and he was wearing blue jeans, not black. He was still wearing leather, but this coat was short and dark brown over a gray t-shirt. But his voice, when he spoke, was the one she heard in her dreams.
“Hello, Buffy,” Spike said.
Buffy stared at him, but when he opened his mouth to say something else, she ran.
She slammed and locked the door to her apartment and grabbed the telephone. Her fingers stabbed the buttons as she dialed Giles’s number. It was only an hour earlier in London . He should still be up.
“Giles?” Buffy said as she heard his sleepy voice. “Did I wake you?”
“Buffy? No. Well, yes. But it’s quite all right. How are you?”
“No time. Giles, Spike is back. Here. In Rome . At least I think it’s Spike. I ran like a little frightened, uh, running thing when I saw him. It’s not the First, do you think? Because I didn’t try to touch him. But it definitely looked like Spike, but Spike’s dead, right? Again? Again again ? After the whole L.A. thing? Not that he ever bothered to call me when he wasn’t dead dead again before he was dead again. And oh my God I’m babbling. Stop me, Giles!”
“Buffy!” Giles said. “I don’t need to tell you that you are making very little sense right now. Spike? Is back?”
“Unless it’s the First.”
“What did he say?”
“He said, ‘Hello, Buffy’. Do you think that means something?” Her hand was sweaty as she clutched the phone. She switched it to her other ear and wiped her palm on her skirt. “Because it can’t be Spike, can it? Angel said he didn’t make it.”
“Well—” Giles said before she interrupted him.
“And I’ve dealt, Giles. I did the crying. I did the mourning. Twice, for God’s sake. And after the second time I thought I’d really made peace with Spike’s death and the fact that he never let me know he’d been back. Let go of being so pissed at him for not letting me know—so pissed that I never let him know I knew. And I’m doing it again, aren’t I?”
“Buffy, do breathe for a moment and let me talk to you,” Giles said.
Buffy sank down on the couch and took a deep breath. She was shaking all over. “Talk to me, Giles,” she finally said.
Giles cleared his throat. “Angel never actually said Spike was dead, Buffy. I believe his exact words were that Spike was gone. We just assumed…”
“Give me Angel’s phone number,” Buffy said, her voice hard. “I know I didn’t want it before, but I want it now.”
“Do you really think it wise to call him when you’re this emotional, Buffy?” Giles asked. “Not to mention it’s been nearly a year since we’ve heard from him.”
“The phone number, Giles. Now. Please.”
She heard him flipping through some sort of book or rolodex. He read her the number and she wrote it down on a pad of paper on the end table next to her. He was still talking to her when she hung up.
Buffy was about to dial Angel’s number when there was a knock on her door. Followed by his voice, muffled, speaking through it. “Buffy, I know it’s a right shock, but it’s me. Spike. Please, can I talk to you?”
Buffy walked very slowly to the door and rested her forehead on it before finally pulling it open. Spike stood on the other side, his brow creased in confusion and pain in his blue eyes.
“Buffy?” he asked softly.
“It’s really you?” she asked, just as softly.
“It’s really me, love. Can I come in? I have a lot to tell you, if you want to hear it.”
She reached a finger out and poked him in the chest. He was solid. “Tell me something only Spike would know about me,” she demanded.
His face relaxed as he thought. “You like having ice put on the back of your neck after a rough night of slaying or…” He raised an eyebrow suggestively. “You allowed me to call you Goldilocks on a few occasions. And you told me you loved me right before I burned up in the Hellmouth, though I told you you didn’t.”
Buffy stared at him. She couldn’t control the tears that filled her eyes or the hitch in her voice as she said, “Come in, Spike.”
He crossed the threshold, stepping close to her. She turned her head and waved him toward the couch. “Sit,” she said. “Is there anything I can get for you? I don’t have any blood, though…”
Spike shook his head and reached out to barely brush the back of her hand. “Just want to talk to you. That’s all,” he said.
She narrowed her eyes at him and then nodded. They sat, a careful distance between them.
“Know you’re mad,” Spike said. “Can see it in your face…”
“Mad?” Buffy asked. “Is that what you think I am? Because mad is so far from what I’m feeling. Try furious. Or flabbergasted. Or hurt, betrayed, idiotic, pissed…” She ticked the emotions off on her fingers.
“Yeah,” Spike said. “Got the picture. And you’re right to feel all that. Though you feeling anything at all for me is just…”
“You’re gonna feel me kicking your ass out my door if you don’t explain yourself pretty soon,” Buffy said. “I left you in the Hellmouth because you told me to go, said you had to finish it yourself. So I went. And I grieved. And I tried my damnedest to move on…”
“With the bloody Immortal,” he grumbled. Then he sat up straight. “Wait. You grieved for me?”
“Shut up, Spike,” Buffy said angrily. “I’m not done bitching you out.”
“And then Andrew , of all people, tells me you’re alive—undead—and were here with Angel. Yet did you leave me a note? Did you make a single phone call?”
“No,” Spike said.
“No,” Buffy agreed. “So I figured, well screw him. He doesn’t want me to know he’s back? Fine. But then a month goes by and Giles gets this phone call from Angel saying he’s taken on the Senior Partners at Wolfram & Hart and managed to defeat the first wave of hell spawn they sent his way, but that his whole team is gone. Including you.”
“Yeah. About that…”
“And that was a year ago, Spike. Yet here you are. And what I really want to know is—why?” Buffy looked at him sadly. She tried to ignore how her body was shaking. “Why now?”
Spike stared down at his hands as they rested between his knees. “I was shattered, Buffy. Torn up. Unrecognizable. Angel left me for dust.” He glanced at her to see if she was listening. She was. He went on, “There was a woman, Anne, who found me. Said she knew you, Buffy. Knew Gunn—one of Angel’s people—too. Couldn’t save Gunn, though. But she saved me.”
“Anne?” Buffy asked.
“She looks a little like you. Blonde hair, beautiful. Said she knew you in Sunnydale then met you again in L.A. I guess it was the summer after I helped you off Angelus?”
“Oh,” Buffy said, finally remembering. “I let her use my name.”
“Yeah. Saved her life, you did.”
“And she took care of you?”
“She did.” Spike shifted, looking uncomfortable. “She loves me, Buffy.”
“Does she?” Buffy asked, her voice flat. “And you? Do you love her?”
“Well, there’s a question,” Spike said. He leaned back to rest against the couch cushions and rolled his head slightly to look at Buffy. “For so long, it was only you. You were everything, Buffy. My whole world, mostly when you didn’t fancy it. But we were never good to each other, like Anne is to me.”
“We never got the chance,” Buffy said, shifting to look at him too. “When I finally accepted how I felt about you, it was too late. Then when you came back, for so long I didn’t even know it.” Her shock was giving way to panic. They hadn’t even touched each other yet, not really. And he was trying to tell her what?
“Right. You’re right,” he said. “And that’s why I’m here. Vampires don’t marry humans, at least no vampire I’ve ever known. Even with my soul, that’s what I am still—a vampire. But Anne wants to be with me. She knows she’ll age while I’ll basically still be like this.” He waved his arm in front of himself. “But she wants me anyway. So we decided to lay our pasts to rest. Because, thing is, part of me is still in love with you. And I couldn’t seem to let that part go. Least not ‘til I saw you one more time.”
Buffy covered her mouth with her hands, her eyes wide. Her head and heart were fighting with each other and she felt sick to her stomach. The idea of Spike being here was overwhelming. The idea of him being here and no longer completely in love with her… As selfish as that was, Buffy had never imagined that’d be possible. She took her hands away from her face and breathed deeply. “Does she—Anne—does she know you’re here? With me?”
Spike nodded. “She does. She wants me to figure this—us—out before I can decide to really be with her.”
“Sounds to me like you already think we won’t… That I don’t…”
“No,” he said reaching his hand over to trail his fingers along her cheek. Finally touching her. And the contact burned, just like it had the last time they’d touched. Buffy turned her face into his palm and closed her eyes. He still smelled like Spike, but without the cigarette smoke and bourbon.
Buffy slowly lifted her lids. “You quit smoking,” she said.
He smiled slightly. “Yeah. It was bad for my health.”
Buffy surprised herself by laughing. Evidently, from the look on his face, she’d surprised Spike too.
“Never heard enough of that for my liking,” he said.
Buffy reached up and wrapped her hand around his, holding his palm to her cheek. “I missed you so much, you idiot,” she said. “How could you not call me?”
“And say what, exactly? ‘Hi, Buffy. Didn’t burn up forever like you thought. So much for heroic gestures. Want me to bollocks up the new life you’ve been given?’ Think not.” He looked down. “And then this last year…”
“But you’re here now,” Buffy said. “For how long?”
“Two weeks. Booked a return ticket for then.”
“Just two weeks.” Buffy took his hand from her face and held it between both of hers. “Can I kiss you hello? I mean, do you want me to? Is it allowed?”
He smiled at her. “I’d like that.”
Buffy tugged him to her. She was a little afraid to close her eyes, in case he wouldn’t be there when she opened them again. But when his lips touched hers, she stopped worrying. She remembered this, this heat between them. This need to practically be a part of him and have him a part of her. She deepened the kiss, teasing Spike’s tongue with her own, wrapping her arms around his head to hold him close. She felt Spike’s arms wrap around her too and heard him groan as they sank into each other. He still tasted like Spike, Buffy thought. All woodsy and a little sweet. She pressed herself against his body, felt his erection push into her belly.
But then he pulled away.
“Um,” Buffy said awkwardly.
“Yeah,” Spike said as he ran a hand through his hair. “Looks like that part still works with us.”
“Understatement much?” Buffy said, smoothing her own hair.
Spike took her hand again. “That’s not the part that concerns me, love. If I’m gonna move forward with this existing thing, I need to know where I belong. If I can be good for you–if you can be good for me too. Or if I’m just being a bloody idiot. And if that’s the case, at least I’ll know.”
Buffy looked at him, at the face that she dreamed about so often. At the man he’d become—the man she’d known he could become. And he was really here.
“Stay?” she asked, her voice steadier than she felt.
“We have two weeks to find out, right? I say we use them.”