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Title:  All That's Good

Part 8:  Starting Over  (Sunnydale)

By

Anessa Ramsey

         It'd been four months since she saw him last.  She wanted to say that she never thought about him, never wondered what he was doing, if he was happy with Paige, if he enjoyed being a Whitelighter, but she couldn't.  She knew that Dawn still kept in contact with him.  He wasn't Spike, but he loved her like Spike had. 

         It had also been four months since she'd seen Willow.  Will managed to convince the Elders to bind her magic so she could visit her friends and tell them that she was okay.  It had been hard for everyone.  Xander had cried and so had Willow.  She apologized to everyone, especially Giles, who'd still been sporting bruises and cuts from the damage that she'd done to him.

         She got frequent calls from Piper Halliwell, giving her updates on how Willow was progressing.  The Elders were pleased with her progress and were of the opinion that she may be able to return soon.  It was going to be difficult but they needed her here.

         The only person she had trouble talking to anymore was Dawn.  Everyone knew the whole story.  Every last disturbing detail.  It was the only way she thought she could start over.  She needed them to know that it wasn't all Spike's fault.  Dawn still had trouble looking her in the eye.  Spike had been like an older brother to her.

         There were times when she'd be on patrol and walk by his crypt.  Since he'd been gone, several different vamps had tried to take it over, but she always killed them.  Their presence was offensive to her.  It was his crypt.  It would always be his crypt and she wasn't going to let anyone else take over. 

         Giles tried to tell her to let it go, that he wasn't coming back but she knew that.  She did.  She just felt like she owed him something, owed it to him to make sure that his existence wasn't completely erased. 

         Angel hadn't understood either.  When he'd shown up on her doorstep after her call to LA, he hadn't wanted to believe that she and Spike had been lovers.  His visit was short and she knew that it had changed things irrevocably between them.  They were two different people and no longer had a place in each others' lives. 

          She was seeing someone new.  His name was Greg and he worked with Xander.  He knew what she was and that she had just gotten out of a relationship, if it could even be called that.  He was nice, understanding…human.  There were times when he would hold her after they had sex and she would wish for the feeling of cool, pale arms encircling her.  Spike had never made her feel suffocated. 

         There were times when she wished things could have been different.  She wished she could have loved him the way he'd wanted her to when he was here, or been nicer to him instead of always beating him down, but she knew she couldn't change the past.  She was starting over.  She had a new lease on life and it was time that she took it. 

         Kneeling down in front of the crypt she laid the pure white roses in front of the door.  "I'm pretty sure that you can't hear me, but I need to say this.  I'm sorry Spike.  I'd like to say that I didn't know what I was doing, but that would be a lie and I'm through lying to you.  It's strange not having you here.  I miss the fights, the banter.  You were a challenge.  The only worthy one.  Even Xander misses being able to torment you."  She paused, wiping at the moisture that was building in her eyes.  "Dawn misses you.  She doesn't say it and she tries to pretend that Will is you, but we both know that he's just a poor substitute.  It's odd talking to you now that you're gone when I wouldn't when you were here.  But I guess that's the story of my life.  I'm always one step behind…with you, with Riley.  I'm not going to make that mistake with Greg.  He's nice and he treats me well.  I'm going to make it work, even though sometimes, I pretend he's you."  She stood and stared at the iron door that she had shoved open more times than she could remember.  "I'm starting over Spike.  It's time for the trombones and parade.  I finally know what I want.  A normal life.  And that means it's time for me to say goodbye.  I can't give myself to him when I'm still hanging on to you.  So good-bye Spike.  It's been a wild ride."  She turned to go then paused, looking back.  It was time to tell him.  "I love you."