Title: Choosing Heaven

Author: Sandy S.

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Joss owns all! And he said we could play! ;o)

Spoilers: Through "Life of the Party."

Summary: Spike gets a phone call, and he can finally answer the phone. Buffy POV.

Dedication: For my dear beta, Sandy, for being such an amazing help! This is for you, sweetie. . . you mentioned something about a phone call, and this came out.

Choosing Heaven


I've found it to be fairly easy to judge someone's emotional state, and I can usually tell a lot about someone from the way he or she answers the phone.

But not with. . .

"Spike? H-hello. It's Buffy." I mentally kick myself. He knows my voice. I don't have to tell him who I am. I brace my arm against myself to keep the phone from trembling, and suddenly, I wish I were sitting down.

Silence fills my head, and a thousand thoughts rush through my head. Maybe it's a bad connection. After all, I'm in Spain, and he's in Los Angeles. Maybe my calling card's run out. I wonder how much Dawn and I've used. No, that's not it.

Maybe he doesn't want to talk with me. Maybe he would rather hang the phone up than face what we left hanging in the hellmouth.

My stomach plunges with the thought. Is he angry with me for not calling sooner. . . for not jumping at the chance to be with him again after I found out he was. . . back.


The single syllable tells me everything I need to know. His emotion is as clear and tangible in his speech as it always was in his eyes. Even now, I can picture the endless depths of his blue eyes pouring into mine. . . .

He's scared. He's lonely. He's tired.

And he's relieved.

"Are you there?" I ask, twisting the phone cord around my index finger. Are you really still alive? Do you miss me? Do your insides feel like they've been shredded like mine?

"Yes, I'm here," he breathes into the phone.

I hear sounds of people in the background. "Are you on speaker phone?" After all, he is a ghost; he can't touch anything, can he?


"I-I was just wondering. . . since. . ."

"Since I'm not made of flesh and bone anymore?" *Am I flesh to you?*

I wince at the memory of the shadowy church confession when Spike bared his soul. . . a soul he chose. Was it only a year ago? I keep my voice even to hide the effect his words have on me. "Well. . ."

He chuckles softly. Thankfully, I detect no sarcasm. "No, Buffy. No one else is listening in. I got myself a new trick. I'm not a completely caged puppy anymore. Can touch things. Am holding the phone. Don't worry, no one knows that I'm talking with you. And I won't tell Angel either."

"I don't care if you tell Angel," I assure him, letting him know that he's important to me. . . that I'm not hiding anymore. Then, I change directions, "It's worse than the chip, isn't it?"

His voice deepens and lowers, and I feel the familiar tug on my heart that says we share something. "Yeah. I suppose it is. Sorta didn't expect to be around anymore."

"You saved the world," I remind him as if I've just remembered his body dissolving before me. The wonder on his face in that moment still haunts my dreams. I glance down at my hand, which is mostly healed but still bears a faint reminder of his mark. . . his flame.

"Yeah," he says. I almost see him lowering his head. Soulless Spike would have used my words as a way to get a proverbial checkmark in my supposed record of good deeds.

Silence reigns again.

And then, we speak simultaneously:

"How's Dawn?" he asks.

"I miss you," I murmur.

I use laughter to cover my confession, hoping that maybe he hasn't heard it. "You first," I insist. "What did you say?" Maybe if I pretend not to care, he won't feel pressured to respond to my admission.

"I asked after the little Bit." He's not ready to call me on it yet, but somehow I know he will. He's good at that.

"Oh! She's fine! Studying away in the other room! Giles is home- schooling her, and she has a biology test this afternoon." The next part I say with extra volume. "That she didn't study for until two hours before!"

Dawn's muffled voice carries to me from where she sits in the living area of our hotel rooms, and I secretly hope that Spike can hear her, "Hey! I'm studying now! And you better not be talking to Giles!"

"You better be glad I'm not!" I return and grin into the phone even though Spike can't see me.

"She sounds good," Spike comments.

"She is," I repeat.

"And what're you up to?"

"Recruitment, recruitment, recruitment. Blah. It's not a fun job. There're an incredible number of Slayers now, and there're no Watchers and no records. Giles and I are working to get organized. We've set up a base in Europe, and we're recruiting Wicca gurus and other people who used to be affiliated with the Council to form a worldwide network so that the Slayers have resources and guides to turn to. It's got to be pretty confusing for most of them. . . getting powers all of a sudden like that. Willow is working with the coven she studied with before to track them down." It's the most I've said so far, and it's also the easiest thing I've said. I can do the neutral stuff.

Although Spike follows my lead, I don't know how long he'll continue to do so, "Sounds very boring. No slayage?"

I giggle. "First thing you think of is how boring it must be if I'm not killing things?"

His reply has an edge of the Spike of old, "Of course! Now that I'm a ghostie, I got to get my demon carnage somewhere."

"Ha ha. Bet you get plenty of that by hanging out with Angel and his gang. Wolfram and Hart *has* to be keeping you guys pretty busy. Evil law firm, right?" I turn back to the bed and perch on the edge of the overly cushioned mattress.

"Well, since I'm stuck here, I do get to witness plenty of action," he confesses and then adds, "Lots of *really bad* action."

I'm not sure I want to know what he means. "See. It's not all dull, right?"


The next part slips out before I can censor, "And Angel says you've been helping out some. . . like with that necromancer guy."

He draws a deep breath. "You talk to Angel often?" Is that jealousy I detect?

"Well, um, no, not really," I try to reassure him. "He did call me after you ca. . . were released from the amulet."

"Yeah?" Now he's hurt. My heart aches for yet another pain I've caused him.

"A-and Angel said that it might be best if. . ."

"Angel says. Angel said. You don't want to know what Angel's been doing."

I ignore the last part. Angel has every right to live his life the way he wants; we've established that between us. Instead, I offer Spike an olive branch of truth, "I miss you." Not past tense. . .present. My fingers clinch around the phone so hard that I feel my knuckles straining against the skin of my hand. Got to be careful not to break the phone.

He's quiet, and then, "I'm scared, Buffy."

"I know," I say, wishing I could touch his arm or hold his hand. Despite the ugly things that happened between us, Spike and I were always tactile with one another.

"I sort of expected to rest, you know? Kind of like the way you described heaven."

Memories of the deepest peace I've ever known flood back. Sadness threatens to consume me. I've very carefully dealt with and tucked away my experiences after death. Sometimes, though, if someone reminds me, they come flowing out. . . like wine flowing from an upturned bottle into my system. Everything slows down and becomes overly bright and surreal. . . a mini-reenactment of my state after I clawed out of my own grave.

I shake my head, and my ponytail comes a bit loose. In fairness to Spike, I try to be honest, "You deserve it."

His response is instantaneous, and I can tell he's been thinking about it a while. What else has he had to do? "No, I don't. . . but I wanted it. . . wanted to at least be considered, you know? And now, what do I have? I'm stuck here. I can't fight. I can't do much more than lift a bloody coffee cup. And you know me, I'm a very physical person. It's how I express myself. Hell, the one thing I can do that I couldn't before is stand in the sunlight without frying. 'Cept now I can't feel the sunlight. I feel like I'm in hell. . . with all these things right in my grasp that I can never have. And I'm sick of wearing the same clothes I died in."

He ends his mini-rant, and I say two words, "I understand."

The anger and frustration melts away with his next statement, and I can almost feel the tension in his shoulders dissipate. "God, Buffy, I know you do."

"What's that thing you told me once?"

"I told you lots of things, pet. Some of them not so great."

"Remember when you told me that life wasn't a song. . . that it wasn't bliss? Well, I finally figured out what you meant. Life is hard. Life is one big scary unknown and can throw you some majorly big curveballs. Life can seem like hell. Life can *be* hell. But we all have a choice. Your circumstances may be excruciatingly, unbearably horrible, but you can choose to make your own little heaven or hell out of them. Okay, shutting up now before I sound any more like an after school special."

"When did you get so smart, love?"

Goosebumps raise an army over my arms and legs when he uses his nickname for me. "Since you taught me. Course, I'm stubborn and had to learn through trial and error."

"And they also say that sometimes the things you notice in others may sometimes be a projection of your own issues. Still, awareness is a start."

Then, I acknowledge something I haven't really ever said out loud or fully comprehended myself, "You know what? I sometimes still have trouble with those same feelings you're having. Like, why did my friends pull me out of heaven? Why can't I just rest? There are days. . . hours when I just want to close my eyes and not wake up. Sometimes, it's a daily struggle. . . . But I make it."

"Each day is a choice," Spike summarizes for me.

"Yeah. I guess it is."

We let the quiet sit comfortably between us. I'm grateful just to know he's on the other end of the line. . . reaching out to me over the seas and continents that separate us. In the space of that time, I close my eyes and recall the scent of cigarettes and mints that tinged his skin, the sight of his long fingers lacing through my smaller ones, the taste of the soft spot on his stomach, and the quiet sound of his voice echoing in my ear as I lay against his chest.

"Buffy?" Spike eventually asks, startling me out of my reverie.


"I forgot to mention something I *can* do."

"What's that?" I ask, curious about his bright tone.

"I can walk through walls," he announces proudly. "Well, and other objects. . . like desks and people. The walking through people thing is a little creepy, but I walked through a moving car once. That was pretty cool."

"Wow! Go you! Can you fly? 'Cause that would be majorly cool."

"Dunno. Haven't tried really. I've jumped up some things and through some floors at Wolfram and Hart though. It's kind of a pain 'cause Fred tends to send me on errands like I'm a bloomin' messanger boy."

"See? You're helpful!" Now it's my turn to feel a little jealous. Willow's told me how beautiful Fred is.

"I miss you, too," Spike says without warning.

To my surprise, my heart jumps in my chest. Then, it sinks. "Spike. I just realized something."


"My calling card's about out of minutes." Tears well in my eyes out of nowhere. I don't want to end the call. "I have to go."

"Oh." Disappointment etches the single syllable . "Can we talk again?"

I bite my bottom lip as my tears spill over my cheeks. "I don't know when I'll be able to. Things are really crazy around here."

"Well, thank y. . ."

And he's gone. Cut off by the system with his tired resignation hanging in mid-air.

I hang the phone up and absorb the lingering essence of our conversation. Somehow talking with Spike made the truth seem more tangible in my mind.

Spike's a spirit.

He can't touch anything.

He can't hold me.

He's a million miles away.

The distance makes me feel sad, but still, I find myself smiling through my sorrow.

He's so far away; yet, he's managed to reach out across the chasm between us and touch my soul once again.

And he can hold the phone.

There *has* to be a way to make him whole again.

Wiping the tears from my cheeks and sniffling as I straighten my skirt and stand from the bed, I call, "Dawn! Go grab your suitcase. We're going on a trip!"

Scuffling fills my ears, and Dawn's head pokes around the doorframe, her long hair swishing over her shoulders. "Where're we going now? And what about my test?" Her eyes are shining with excitement, partly because she thinks she might get out of the test and partly because anywhere we go is an adventure.

"You can take your test at the airport. And where are we going?" I pause and offer her a grin much bigger than the small smile I managed after Sunnydale collapsed into a crater. "Home, Dawnie. We're going home."

She squeals with delight because she knows exactly what I'm talking about. My sister's a perceptive young woman.

Giles and the others will just have to learn to understand.

I'm making a choice.

And this time, I'm choosing to make my heaven in Los Angeles, California. . . with a ghost who loves me.

The end.