Title: A Look to the Future 3/3

Author: Goldy

Email: thegoldoneb_a@hotmail.com

Disclaimer: Starts with a Mutant and ends with an Enemies. No, really. It does. I bet ME never even considered the *irony* of that name when Joss came up with it.

A/N: For the record, it is NOT me who is going around and leaving petty flames on the stories of other B/Ars or my friends. Whoever is parading around as Goldy is a sick fuckup and holds no relation to me.

Buffy wandered around the Wolfram & Hart facilities uncertainly. "Okay…" she said to herself. "Really good time to have Angel find me right about now."

"Buffy."

'Wow, now *that* was uncanny.' She turned around and watched… someone… come towards her. Wait a minute. Buffy squinted. He looked almost familiar. "Wesley?" she gasped.

Wesley didn't notice her surprise. "Buffy, been a long time."

She gaped at him. "Where are the glasses? The slick hair jell? Did you grow stubble?" her mouth fell open. "You've been brooding, haven't you?"

Wesley looked taken aback. "How… how did you know?"

"The eyes," Buffy shared. "Angel's always got kind of warn and tired. Jeez, when did you become a major hottie?"

'Did I *really* just say that?'

Whereas the old Wesley would have let out a squeal and admonished her behaviour, new brooding Wesley Mack 101 barely even blinked. "I've been through a lot."

Buffy resisted the urge to moan. "Yeah, yeah, so has everyone apparently."

"My I ask… what brings you to LA?"

Buffy rolled her eyes. "I know, Angel's with Cordelia now, blah, blah, blah. I'm just that strange girl who walked off the street. Don't have a place here, should go running off with human Spike."

Wesley looked interested. "Spike is human?"

"Whole big thing." She frowned, "I'm not sure how it happened, actually."

Wesley began walking down the hall, at a very fast pace. Buffy rushed to catch up with him. "There was a prophecy…" Wesley began.

"That Spike was going to turn human?" Buffy asked, dubiously.

Wesley stopped, and Buffy had to veer to the left to keep from running into him. "It was Angel's prophecy, Buffy," he shared quietly. "Angel was supposed to be the vampire with a soul to turn human."

Buffy gaped at him. "No…"

"It was to be his reward."

She stared hard at the ground. God, poor Angel. On top of everything else that he'd already lost this year…"Are you sure?"

Wesley nodded gravely. "I'm sure it wasn't your fault," he said, a touch of bitterness in his voice. "After all, you only sent Angel away and gave the medallion to souled William the Bloody."

Buffy flushed. Apparently New Wesley was slightly more blunt, as well. "I have to talk to him."

"Angel or Spike?"

Buffy sighed. "Both of them."

"Angel's been through enough in the past year." Wesley's face hardened, "God knows, most of it's been my fault."

Buffy was surprised by his admission, but tried not to let it show on her face. "And Angel really is not the best at forgiving and forgetting."

Wesley absentmindedly rubbed the side of his throat, where, Buffy noticed, he was sporting a nice looking scar. "Usually he's justified." As an afterthought he added, "Of course, things were always different when they came to you."

Buffy snorted. "Sure."

Wesley gave her a look of something akin to understanding. "You want to go… do something? Game of cards until Angel gets back, perhaps?"

Buffy shrugged. "Why the hell not?" She had to admit, she found New Wesley mildly interesting. There was a lot going on behind the stony countenance. He almost seemed like someone that would understand the darkness in her.

She followed him through the halls of Wolfram & Hart *very* glad she now had someone to lead her through the confusing place. "So, Wes, now that you know all about me, how's your love life going?"

Wesley smiled. "Appears you're not the only one having problems with someone who's less than alive."

Buffy raised one eyebrow. "Really? Do tell…"

****


Wesley and Buffy were on their fourth game of Go Fish (Wesley had won every game up until that point, but Buffy thought she had a fighting chance) when Spike found her.

"Hello, Buffy," he said in his deep, serious British tone.

She looked up, almost startled. "Spike."

"Got any three's?" Wesley asked.

Spike squinted. "What the hell are you doing?"

"Nothing," Buffy answered. "Wesley was just killing me at Go Fish."

"Oh." Spike paused. "Do you want me to beat him up?"

"No," Buffy sighed. "It's okay. I can do it."

Wesley gathered up the cards. "I'll just make one of those discreet exits. Call me sometime Buffy. It's been fun."

Buffy gave him the thumbs up. "Will do. Good luck with Lilah. And keep in mind, just because someone has died, it doesn't make them less of a good partner choice."

Spike watched him go suspiciously. "Should this be making me jealous?"

"Nahh… Wesley's just a friend." Buffy frowned, "And I never, ever thought I'd be calling him even that."

"Probably never thought you'd be falling for me, either," Spike said with grin, leaning backwards. He lost his footing and tumbled ungracefully to the floor.

"Are you drunk?" Buffy asked in disgust.

"Hey!" Spike cried, taking her hand to get to his feet. "Angel is, too! And just between you and me, he's looking a little stressed out. Been spending just a little too much time in bars recently."

"You saw Angel?" Buffy said gently, trying not to sound guilty.

"Yeah, about that. Next time you send my grandsire out to kill me, at least give me a warning."

"I'm sorry." Buffy paused and added without conviction, "I would have stopped him if I thought he was serious about it. And I didn't 'send' him to kill you, he did that on his own."

Spike looked at her intently, cupping her cheek and staring into her hazel eyes. Buffy was fairly certain he hadn't heard a word she'd said. "There's something about you…"

Her breath came out in a rush. "Spike just because you're human, it doesn't mean…"

"Doesn't mean what?" he took a step back. "You're breaking up with me."

"Breaking up…?" Buffy demanded, throwing her arms in the air. "We were never together! How can I break up with you when I don't even know what we *were*! We can't just run off into the sunset now that you won't burn up. It doesn't work that way. I just need… time."

"This is about Angel."

"No… maybe… I don't know. Things are just so confusing right now. I knew what I wanted, I had it right *there* and now…"

"You cared about me, I know you did. You said it, Buffy. I felt it…"

She closed her eyes. "Don't do this."

He blinked, staring at her. "I love you."

"I know," she whispered. "And you're human and it would be so easy to just…"

"Just what?"

She shook her head. "It's not fair to you. You know that. Things would never last. I can't ever… I think I gave my heart away a long time ago. And as hard as I've tried I've never gotten back."

"You said it," he repeated. "I *heard* you say it. You never said it to that bloke Riley, but you said it to me."

"You were going to die," her voice caught. "I thought I'd never see you again! You were giving yourself up for the world. It was the most incredible thing I'd ever seen anyone do and part of that was because I believed in you. I gave you the only thing I thought you wanted."

Spike took another step back. "Fine," he said gruffly. "I'll get out of your way. Go shag the great Poufster. But when you walk in on him feeding from a bag of blood in the middle of the night, you can't come cry on my shoulder."

"Spike…don't do this."

"What am I doing? Making this harder for you? Because it's damn well hard for me!"

"You knew," she yelled. "So don't make this seem like I played with your head! You knew I didn't mean it. You *knew*."

He softened. "You're right."

I love you

No you don't. But thanks for saying it anyway.

He went to the door and without turning said, "Where's the 'Lil Bit?"

Buffy watched him with tears in her eyes. "In Cleveland," she rasped. "With the others."

"Maybe I'll try and help. I always liked Dawn." Spike turned to gaze at her, hoping it wasn't the last time. "I'd do anything to be worthy of your love, Buffy."

She went to him, touched his hand. "You are. And I do love you in my way. I just…"

"Only see a future with Angel."

She shrugged helplessly, not denying or confirming his words. Leaning up, she kissed him on the cheek. "Good luck, Spike. Do something good."

He gave her one last intent look before walking out of her life.

She didn't watch him go. Instead she went the opposite way. To Angel's office. And this time she didn't have any trouble finding it.

***

He came in late, stumbling around and knowing he'd had way too much to drink. He had to admit, it had been a *lot* to drink. The great Angelus could hold quite a bit of alcohol. Images of Spike and Buffy going off into the sunset had kept him rooted to the bar stool, and one drink had somehow always gone on and on.

He was still alert, and he knew the moment he got into his office that Buffy was there. He was relieved to smell that she was alone.

Angel fumbled for the light, not quite sure where it was in the damned office. Thing was so huge, he wouldn't be surprised if Lilah had hid the switch on purpose just to annoy him. Most of the time, it wouldn't be a problem, he could see just fine as a vampire, but in his drunken state he was slightly less alert.

The light blinked on.

Angel started in surprise. It suddenly dawned on him that she must have been waiting for him in the dark.

"Hi," she said, weakly.

Angel blinked, sniffing the air. His brain mostly wheeled from the shock of getting too many smells at once. "I am so drunk," he muttered, sinking gratefully into the chair behind his desk.

Buffy looked suspicious. "How much time have you been spending in bars recently?"

"What?" Angel asked, confused. He gave her an annoyed look and did his best to push away his drunken stupor.

"Never mind," she said quickly.

"Where's Spike?"

Buffy shrugged. "Beats me. Probably half way to Cleveland by now. You can't smell him on me or anything, right?"

No. He couldn't. Mostly because the alcohol was impairing his senses. "Should I be smelling him on you?" he watched her carefully for signs of guilt. Her face remained impassive.

"I don't have to apologize for anything, Angel. So don't make it seem like I committed a great sin."

He jumped up from his chair, knocking it backwards into the windows in the process. "The HELL you don't have anything to apologize for!" He exploded angrily, pacing the room. "You'd just finished telling me that we were going to try and have some kind of a life together, that I wasn't just second best." He stopped, looked at her, "If that didn't mean anything to you then you certainly have something to apologize for."

She looked stunned. "I don't… I mean… we didn't…"

Angel sat heavily on his desk. "Buffy, I love you," he said quietly. "you're the only person I ever have loved. I'd do *anything* you'd ask." He gazed into her eyes, "Have. I went to make a second front for you, so you wouldn't complicate things with Spike. If that isn't good enough… then I don't know what is."

Buffy blinked back tears. "You still love me?"

He gave her his best "duh" face.

She smiled, despite her rollercoaster emotions. "I sent Spike away. Well, mostly. He went of his own accord, but I made it pretty clear that there wasn't going to be anything between us." As an afterthought, she added, "I love you."

Angel sagged in relief. "Thank goodness." He took her hand, drawing her close against him.

"Mmm," she murmured. "You're all smokey and alcoholey."

"Spike went to the bar first," he complained, lamely.

"What *is* it between you two?" Her eyes lit up, "Have you heard my wrastling theory yet?"

He breathed her in, trying frantically to process that she chose to be with *him,* that he was holding her, and that they were going to try some kind of a life together.

"Can you promise me forever, Angel?" she asked sharply, in a serious tone.

Could he? Could he really promise her forever? Could they ever really know what the future held?

He kissed her softly, her question echoing in his head.

"Yes," he answered simply. Because, whatever happened, he knew that he would always love her.

Forever: that's the whole point.

END