Title: Oblivion

Author: Sandy S.

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Rating: PG-13(?)

Spoilers: Set after "Chosen."

Summary: Buffy POV.  Spike returns.  Read to find out. 

Dedication: This short series is for Thia for the anniversary of our friendship! *hugs* We've been friends for a year now! ;o) The story is also for dear Ami whose deep and thought-provoking poetry inspires me.

Oblivion

            Spike made it out. . . out of that crater, out of Sunnydale, out of the grasping jaws of death.

            I've never been more certain about anything.

            I *feel* his presence before I ever set eyes on him again.

            The feeling is sort of similar to gut reaction I used to get when Angel was nearby. . . the nagging prick in my heart that refuses to be extinguished. 

            Funny.

            Until now, I hadn't realized that I don't get that feeling about Angel anymore.  He could round the corner right now, and I wouldn't feel the slightest tingle in warning.

            Yeah, I do still *love* Angel, but it's different now. 

            It's the kind of love that's faded, worn, and used. . . like the cover of a well-read book. . . the kind of love that rouses only sometimes. . . when brown unexpectedly meets green. 

            In contrast, the emotion that radiates from behind Spike's unwavering cerulean gaze is almost tangible. . . bright, inextinguishable. . .

            . . . like an undying flame. . .

            that sears my heart, leaving a brilliant brand that makes me gasp aloud.

Whenever I have thoughts like these, I'm struck by how different Spike and Angel are.

"What's wrong, Buffy?" Willow asks, rolling over in her bed across the room and dragging a sluggish hand across the white plane of her forehead and brushing a rivulet of scarlet from her blinking eyes.

Silver moonlight is swathing the room I share with Willow.  I offer her a smile to cover up the evidence of my sharp inhalation.  "Nothing, Will.  Go back to sleep."

Willow's worried brow smoothes out once again.  "You sure?"

"Yeah."  My legs swing over the edge of the bed as if they have a mind of their own.  The motel carpet is thick and soft beneath my feet that sink deep and form tiny craters in the fibers as I pad to the door. 

As I curl my fingers around the collar of my new pink robe, Willow repeats, "You sure?"  There's a pause as she lifts her head like a tortoise peeking up at me from a shell of blankets.  Then, "where are you going?"

"Out for a bit," I reply, tugging my arms through the encasing sleeves. 

            "What for?" she asks. 

Sometimes I wonder if Willow's connection with the earth allows her to penetrate minds. . . or if she somehow is adept at blocking out the voices of the masses.  Once I had Sunnydale's stream of consciousness in my brain, and the pain was beyond any reason. . . beyond any form of control.  She must have a strong shield because I can't fathom having to constantly fight the thoughts of everyone in the world. 

            "Just to get out of my head," I finally respond.

            "Thoughts of Spike again?"  She knows me too well.

            "Yeah."  At Willow's lifted eyebrows, I add, "I'll be fine."  I grip the stake on the counter and wave it a bit at her.  "Got my weapon.  Got my bathrobe.  Safe *and* warm.  Who could ask for more?"

            "I could ask for safe and warm *in my bed,*" Willow protests, her hand coming over the comforter as if she's reaching for me, beckoning me to stay.

            The lure of warm sheets is tempting.  The pull elsewhere is stronger.  "I can't.  Not now."

            Willow sighs.  "All right.  Be safe?"

            "Always," I assure.  "We'll have pancakes in the morning."

            Settling back into blissful unawareness, my best friend murmurs, "Pancakes.  Yum."

            A smile momentarily traces my lips.

Then, the night summons, and I react, changing quickly into the outfit I've hidden in the brush, so Willow won't know what I do.