Chapter 42 – Dreaming

For years it had been a habit to go outside to have his first smoke of the day. Now his fingers just itched because there was nothing there. Spike sighed, shifting in the lounger, as he gazed out on the wide expanse of the Pacific. His confinement in the hospital had rendered him unable to indulge his habit. Now that he was home, he didn't want to start up again so he made a mental note to have Buffy pick up the patch. They had eased his cravings while he was confined and he hoped they would help him over the worst of it.

It was another adjustment in the life he wanted to make with Buffy.

"Here's breakfast," Buffy said, cheerily as she put the tray down on the small table beside him.

"Looks good," Spike said, eyeing the platter filled with cut-up fresh fruit and bagels smeared with cream cheese. He held his arms out to Buffy before she could sit in the chair across from him. "No hanky panky I promise, just want to hold you."

Buffy settled across his lap, her bottom on one side of his legs and her feet on the other side. She reached for a bagel half, handed it to him then took one for herself. Her hair, still damp from her shower tickled at his fingers as he ran his hand across her back.

"Thank you for everything, pet."

"You don't have to thank me," Buffy said. "It's what I wanted to do."

"Not just thanking you for what you've done since the accident," Spike said, shaking his head. He dropped his bagel back on the plate. "For believing since the beginning, in me, in us, for the life we're building."

"I love you, Spike," Buffy said, gazing at him with conviction filling the depths of her emerald eyes. "I have since the beginning…," she laughed. "Not quite the beginning but that first night. You stood up for me, you took care of me. It's not something I'm used to but I feel safe with you."

"Nobody's ever believed in me the way you do, Luv," Spike said softly. "I want you to know they weren't just words said in the heat of the moment. You make me feel like a man, make me want to be a man…make me want to give you the world."

"I just want you," Buffy said.

"I know that, too," Spike said, smiling. "My little Miss Independent."

She beamed at him. There was nothing as beautiful as when Buffy smiled. She lit up from the inside making him want to do anything he could to keep her happy.

He swallowed.

Everything inside told him it was time. He had thought about taking her out for a fancy dinner or something else romantic but he didn't want to wait until he was fully recuperated. He glanced down at the ring on her finger. Her body tensed when she followed his gaze, but she continued to eat her bagel.

"Remember the last time I was here," Spike said, returning his eyes to her face. May as well just jump into this and hope I don't bugger it up. "You asked me if I thought we'd make it."

"Yeah," Buffy whispered. She put the bagel down and sucked cream cheese from her finger. "I remember."

"So, what do you think we'll be doing in twenty years?" Spike asked, mentally kicking himself because he knew he should have rehearsed this. The happiness that had been so pervasive a few moments ago was being replaced by worry. In his nervousness he threw out the first thought he latched onto. "I mean do you think we'll still be living in this house?"

Stupid fool…just tell her how you feel and what you want.

"No," Buffy said, shaking her head. She closed her eyes for a second then met his bravely. "There's no back yard for our kids to play in."

Spike could hear the challenge in them. If he mucked this up then he would probably lose her completely. Giving himself a chance to figure out how to say what he wanted, he glanced around at their surroundings. It clicked that she was right. The verandah went directly onto the beach leaving no place for children to really play. No place for a swing set either. He'd always envisioned having a large backyard covered in perfect, even grass. There would be the swing set and a hammock, a place for the kids to play and a dog to run. This house couldn't provide that.

"You're right," Spike said, smiling. "The suburbs it will be so we can have a yard for the kids. You up for a dog?"

"A dog," Buffy said, giggling as she got into his game. "I guess we'll have SUVs or minivans by then."

"How about a cat and a really big bathtub for us?"

"Oh, definitely," She said. "And for the holidays the family can come to us."

"I'm cooking," Spike laughed.

"You won't hear me argue about that," Buffy said, then snapped her fingers, "And oh yeah, I want…"

~~~~~~~~

20 years later

The heat from the oven blasted onto Spike's face making him draw back. He waited for a moment before dipping the baster into the juices from the turkey he was cooking. Over the years he had gotten into the American holiday of Thanksgiving as much as Buffy did. It was always good to have everyone over for the day.

He felt a hand cupping his ass, rubbing it, before fingers slipped into his back pocket. The rush between them hadn't faded over the years. He straightened up, threw the oven mitt on the counter, and then turned to his wife. She was still as beautiful as the day he had met her.

"Come here, Luv," Spike growled, wrapping his arms around her. She managed only a tiny squeak before his lips descended on hers. His tongue slipped into her mouth enjoying the taste of her.

"Oh, my god," Dawn, their sixteen year old daughter yelped. "I'm sitting right here. Do you two have to do that?"

Grinning, Spike broke the kiss and looked over at Dawn. "How the hell do you think we got you?"

"Eew, scar me much?"

He laughed at their only child. They had wanted more but the fates had decided otherwise. So, all their attention had been lavished on the tiny daughter who had to fight to live after being born prematurely. Somewhere in the house were their two dogs and one cat that completed their immediate family.

It's a good life we have, Spike thought as he rocked Buffy in his arms and contemplated the time between their first year and this one.

There had been a lot of struggles in the first few years, including a few months of separation when it had become too difficult for them to hold everything and each other together. Eventually their love had reunited them again and they had finally married four years after they met.

He was the marketing director for Masters Shipping after working his way up from a college attending intern. Buffy had found that running a restaurant was something that she loved. A few years after signing on to help Arnie; she had started to invest in The Edge until she was an owner of forty-nine percent. Their house was a large two-story Tudor on a quiet cul-de-sac not far from where the O'Connor's once lived. Angel's parents had retired to Phoenix while Buffy's parents had moved into a retirement community that could help with Joyce's care.

Their lives couldn't exactly be described as exciting but they had each other. It was something they had learned was a precious gift. To be cherished, fought for and given their top priority. They had been blessed with having their families close except for Emily and Larry who they had maintained close contact with. And most of their friendships had stood the test of time.

Xander and Anya had broken up shortly before their planned nuptials. Xander was working as a crew boss on a ship that was currently sailing the Orient. Anya had moved to New York City where she owned another small mystical shop. Willow was in a permanent relationship with another woman named Kennedy. In a horrible twist of fate, Tara had been murdered in a convenience store robbery almost ten years previously. Wesley and Faith were married with a large brood of children. Their six children ranged from nineteen to three but they were all loved and cared for. And Cordelia became a fashion powerhouse with her own designer line which Buffy was one of the lucky recipients of some of the cast offs.

Angel was still their closest friend even though he lived in England permanently now. His wife Darla and he had one child, Liam O'Connor. He hated the name and went by…

"Connor…ohmigod," Dawn squealed. "They're here."

Dawn took off running, separating her parents as she made a mad dash toward the back stairs.

"Where the bloody hell are you going?" Spike asked, grabbing her hand. "I thought you were waiting for them."

Buffy laughed and slapped gently at his hand. "Let her go."

"Why?"

"Daddy, he can't know I was waiting," Dawn whined and flashed him a standard 'parents are so dumb' look. "It would be obvious."

Footsteps at the backdoor sent Dawn into a tailspin. She yanked her hand away and darted up the stairs. Spike watched her leave then turned to Buffy.

"That makes no sense."

"Yes, it does," Buffy said, kissing him quickly. "She's sixteen."

Giving up, Spike headed for the back door to let their friends in. Later that day as he was surrounded by people he loved, Spike could only be thankful that he had found the courage to open his heart all those years ago…

~~~~~~~~

"…a huge bed," Buffy finished, with a sigh.  She smiled at Spike. "I have this tendency to fall on my face when we're having sex. Maybe if the bed is big enough then I'll be safe."

"Yeah, but your butt is so cute when it's swaying in the wind."

She swatted him playfully before reaching over to get a piece of cantaloupe. It was great to play make believe but it wasn't real. Every sign was there that he wanted them to make a full commitment. Besides this game was the fact that he was telling her that he loved her, he had gone along when Lorne had assumed they were engaged, and the conversation they had the day before.

You're mine.

Those two little words had sent a thrill through her. She knew he belonged to her but she wanted to hear the words. For Spike to say that he wasn't holding onto any more doubts. His gaze had returned to her hand.

"So, you've decided we'll still be together in twenty years?" Buffy asked, prodding him a little. They hadn't gotten this far without her doing it, what was a little more?

"Yeah," Spike said. "I think so." He glanced up at her then back to the ring. "Do you like it, pet?" He nodded toward it.

"It's beautiful," Buffy said, holding your hand out so it sparkled in the morning sun. "Angel said it was your grandmother's."

"She wore it for almost sixty years. From the day he proposed to the day she died."

"They must have loved each other very much."

"They did," Spike agreed, letting his head fall back on the lounger. "I didn't really have a plan yet for giving it to you." He laughed. "Or when…"

Tears stung Buffy's eyes as she cut him off. "Do you want me to take it off?"

"Yeah…"

In that fraction of a second that Spike paused, Buffy's heart was on the edge of shattering. That one tiny word bore the power of a tornado thundering down upon one small sapling. All of her hopes fluttered wildly in the oncoming destruction of her dreams. Her foot dangled off the edge of the lounger in preparation for her flight from the pain that was coming.

"But knowing my hands right now I'm afraid I'd drop it," Spike said, laughing. Blind to the terror he had given her. "It would roll off into the sand and we'd never find it so I could put it back on you properly."

Her hand closed in a protective gesture to hold onto the ring. She turned to look up at Spike as the first few tears began to fall.

"You mean…?" Buffy sniffled.

"Oh, Luv," Spike said, his eyes widening. "You didn't think that I was going to take it back, did you?" She nodded. "Come here." He held his arms wide, waiting until she snuggled into him before closing them around her. "I love you, Buffy Anne Summers." He kissed the top of her head. "I'm not afraid to say that anymore. You made me believe again." He sighed softly. "I just wanted to take you out when the time was right. Make you feel really special then pop the question. Figured that way you wouldn't say no."

His words were a healing balm to her remaining fears. It was what she had been waiting to hear for so long.

"I wouldn't say no…" Buffy said softly.

"So, we're going to do this?"

"Do what?" Buffy sat up with a mischievous smile on her face. She wasn't going to let him off the hook. Not now. Not after almost destroying her.

"Shag?" Spike asked, trying to maintain a serious face. "It's been almost six hours since the last time."

"Bastard," Buffy declared, crossing her arms. "If you keep teasing me and beating around the bush, you'll never get…shagged again."

"Oh," Spike said, letting his brows furrow. "Hmm, you know my memory is shot these days…oh, I know, we're supposed to go shopping, right?"

"Ooooh, you are getting in so much trouble."

"That wasn't it, was it?" Spike asked with a dramatic sigh. "I'm so confused. Am I supposed to…?"

Fed up with him playing, Buffy started tickling him. Her fingers danced along his rib cage until he was laughing uncontrollably. He kept trying to push her away but couldn't do it. The back of the lounger fell back so that Spike was lying prone with Buffy on top of him.

"Stop it, pet, stop it," Spike pleaded. "I'm going to piss my pants."

"I don't care, you're mean, and horrible, and rotten, and…and…"

"Will you marry me?"

Buffy froze. Shook her head and looked down at him. Spike smiled up at her with his hands resting on her hips while she leaned on his chest.

"What?"

"Pet, I can't promise you a perfect life but I can promise you that I'll try with all my heart. I don't want to ever face another day of being without you. Will you spend your life with me? Be my wife?"

"Yes…yes…yes," Buffy said, not giving him a chance to back out. She shifted until they were lying face to face. She started to kiss him between words.  "I love you…love you…so much…you're perfect."

Spike decided that listening to his mother had been a good idea. It did pay to go a lady's aid. He had and it had led him to a woman that would love him with an undying, unconditional love.

Buffy truly was his lady, his lover and his life.

~~~The End~~~