Title: Boundaries in Paradise (1/1)

Author: Sandy S.

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Joss owns all.

Spoilers: Post "Life of the Party."

Summary: The sequel to "Choosing Heaven." Spike POV on Buffy's return.

Huge thanks to my dear beta, Sandy, for the insights and brilliant help! *hugs* This story is dedicated to Jenn and Aimee who have been feeling down lately and need a reminder that they're special! :o) And thanks to everyone who commented on my last fic...Hope you enjoy this one...

* * *

Lorne is still sleeping.

Still stretched out on Angel's office sofa, he's been sleeping for over
forty-eight hours.

I haven't slept since I've been a ghost. But I remember the heavy but
gentle release of sleep and dreams. . .

The dreams were often vivid and bright. . .

Sometimes they were sweet dreams of being near Buffy, talking with her. . . holding her. Sometimes they were nightmares full of memories from my soulless past. . . full of blood, violence, and the metallic stench of death. I woke from both these types of dreams full of sorrow and regret.

Even now, thinking of the dreams stirs up strong emotions in me. I shake my head, pressing the fingers of my left hand to my temple.

"What's up, Spike? Got a headache?" a voice from my past echoes through
my skull. It takes me a second to realize that Angel is really talking
and isn't some whispered remembrance from my dreams.

I glance up at his familiar form, body clothed in the suit of luxury and evil. . . not something new in my experience. His hair is gelled to the hilt, and I can tell he's been hitting the blood pretty hard since I've seen him last. He's got the look of someone who's gained a lot of weight and then lost it everywhere but in his face. I'm tempted to say
something about him looking like the Pillsbury Dough Boy, but for some
reason lately, I've felt less like attacking him. Didn't say it stopped
me completely though.

He continues speaking, "Do ghosts get headaches? 'Cause, well, if so, it might be an opportune moment for you to *get off my desk and out of here, so I can get some work done.*"

I clear my throat. "Thanks for the concern, mate."

"Okay, so are you going?"

Shoving my hands in my pockets, I rise from the edge of his desk where
I've found myself perched quite often lately. "Maybe. Maybe not." I
regard him thoughtfully. His head is bent over his papers, but he's not
doing anything. "Don't know why I have to go when Lorne is still here."

Angel glances up at the sleeping Lorne who mumbles something about
needing to charge his cell phone. Angel raises his eyebrows at me.
"Lorne is sleeping. He needs his rest after everything that happened at
the party."

"Or *maybe* you're using him to forget what you did with Eve behind that sofa. . . not that what you did was all that spectacular. Need a few pointers? 'Cause you could use some." I think about mentioning Buffy, but after talking with her yesterday, I can't bring myself to.

Ooo, now he's glaring. Git thinks he's scary with that look. "You
know, Spike, you've been crossing a lot of lines since you've become a
gh. . . whatever you are. And I'm really getting sick of it. Now,
please, leave me alone, so I can get some work done before I go out

Something in his eyes gets to me, and I back toward the door, studiously ignoring the part about crossed lines. I intend to keep doing what I want. It's not like I have anything else to do. "Patrolling the city, are we?" I ask.

"Yes," he half-sighs at me. I sense the connection between us. . . sort
of a reluctant affection.

"Don't suppose you'd mind if I hopped in your skin for a bit and took a
few demons out?"

The glare returns accompanied by some eye-rolling. "You know you can't
do that. *Out*, Spike."

Shrugging my shoulders, I step backward through the door and into the
dark corridor. Since the whole hell-sucking thing is over, I've noticed
that whenever I walk through solid objects, I feel a sort of mild-grating sensation as if the objects' particles are saying, "We know you're there, and we want to hold onto you." Worries me a bit because what if I try to move through something and get stuck? Not sure if that makes me feel any better than the notion of getting forced into hell. Guess it depends on where I get stuck.

The halls are dark at Wolfram and Hart in the evenings. In a way, this
surprises me because demons do their worst at night and many can't go out during the day. Guess even evil lawyers need to sleep.

I find myself thinking about sleep again. I haven't felt sleepy since
being a ghost. I'm tired but not sleepy. When all is quiet, I find
myself poking around the law firm. And I've discovered some pretty
interesting things. . . most of which I talk about with the little
scientist girl. . . Fred. I'm sure she tells Angel and the others
because the things I report to her are usually taken care of within 24

Fred reminds me a bit of Buffy and her crew. She's got Willow's brains,
Dawn's sweet innocence. . . despite what she's been through, and Buffy's spunk.


Just talking with her made me feel insanely better. Her call rattled me
for sure, but hearing a familiar voice made me a lot less lonely. . .
grounded me. Gave me hope that maybe I was worth something in this world after all. . . even if our call was cut short.

I miss her.

Even if there are still walls between us. . . even if she'll never really love me, we have a connection. I understand her, and she understands me. . . probably in a way no one else has, myself included.

And I'm holding onto that.

I blink and find that I've found my way to Fred's laboratory. The lights are out, and not even her little lab lackeys are around.

Apparently, she's taken the night off.

She told me what the ex-Watcher told her about taking a break, and I
agree. She's spent way too many nights without sleep, hovering over
ancient texts and running back and forth between different computers.
Granted, when I was being dragged into hell every time I blinked, I
wanted her to work hard, but now that I'm not on the verge of imminent
doom, I think she deserves a rest.

Maybe I deserve one, too.

My eyes fall on a ratty old sofa that's jammed in the shadows of a
neglected area of the laboratory. The torn seat covers and garish olive
green color are a stark contrast to the high tech, contemporary feel of
the lab, and I slide onto it as if I've come home.

One benefit of my hellish experience is that I can move objects now if I focus hard enough. And I can sit on things without floating slightly
over them.

For some reason, some actions come easier to me, like sitting down and
walking around. Sometimes I can actually hear my own footsteps. Maybe
it's because I'm so used to doing those types of things.

And right now, I find it very easy to lie down.

I will myself to feel the sofa underneath me, and slowly, I begin to
realize the scratchy texture of the fabric against my nerve endings and
feel the tear in the cloth where the stuffing is poking out.

Maybe I'm going to sleep, and maybe it has something to do with my new
abilities to become corporeal.

I yawn.

Maybe physical cells need more energy and thus more rest. I dunno.
Never been good at biology. Will have to ask Fred later.

My eyelids droop.

And I don't remember anything else.

* * *


The sound of my name nips at the edge of my mind, but I try to ignore it. Hello? I'm sleeping here.

"Spike." The volume is a little louder now, and I recognize something
about the tone. "Spike, wake up, sleepyhead."

I start then. Asleep! My eyes spring open and find the pair of greenest
eyes I've ever seen peering back at me. I must be dreaming, or else, I'm finally dead. Scrambling to a sitting position, my voice reacts,

She rises from where she had been squatting near my head and smiles at
me. Her hair is tied up in a neat golden bun that glows in the lamplight she's turned on. Dressed in jeans and a red t-shirt and wearing no makeup, she's the most beautiful creature I've ever seen. Her small hand clutches a tiny purse, no doubt concealing a stake of some sort. I'm slightly amused that now she can't stake me even if she wanted to.

She offers me a tiny wave with her free hand. "Hi. Thought the phone
call ended too abruptly, so I jumped on the next plane, so we could
finish our conversation."

My jaw drops, but I quickly clamp it closed again as a flood of emotions rush over me. They're so confusing that I can't fully grasp them, so I hold onto the one thing I'm certain I can hide behind.


I spring away from her as if she's hit me like she has so many times in
the past. I stand well apart. "Why are you here?" I demand. "And how
did you get in?"

For the first time, she seems uncertain. "What do you mean? I told you
I wanted to see you. I asked the night guard. He let me in and told me
where to find you."

"Why are you here?" I repeat. "So you can show me how sorry for me you
feel? So you can feel like you've done your duty? Come to gander at
poor Spike who died. . .or tried to die. . . saving the world. And then, you can tell all your little friends how terrible it is to see me in such a state. Hell, you can tell Giles to write it in his little Watcher's journals that he inevitably still keeps because he's a limey bastard. He can write about how *the* Slayer nobly dropped everything and came to see the champion to make sure he was okay. Well, how's this one? I don't want to be written about. I don't want to be a part of mythical history. I don't exist."

I pause and take a deep breath, noting with triumph that Buffy's
expression is one of utter shock. I lower my voice and cross my arms,
"Or have you come because you want to see *Angel.* You can use me as an
excuse to come see your one true love. After doing your prescribed duty
of making sure I'm 'okay,' you can run to him and hold hands and moan
about your ill-fated love. I've been on the ride before, love, and I
don't fancy climbing on again."

A collage of emotions plays across her face, and I marvel how we can
arouse so many feelings in one another. I wonder how I almost forgot
that. My supernatural skin is humming with an energy I haven't felt
since I saw her last.

Then, she does something that surprises me. She comes slowly forward and stands in front of me, toe to toe. Fastening her eyes on mine, she says softly, "I'm here to see *you*. . . not Angel. And I didn't come here out of a sense of duty. I thought I told you how much I miss you."

"Words. . . semantics," I murmur. Still, my heart gives that familiar
tug of hope that always springs to life when she gives me her attention.

"And actions. I'm here now. I *miss* you. I know you're scared. You
have every right to be. What did we just talk about? How you expected
to find peace? I *know* exactly how you feel. I lived it, remember?"
She's so open with me as if we had never parted.

"I seem to recall something like that," I reply, letting my
sense-of-humor peek its head out.

My slight change in mood allows her to crumble a bit, "A-and I'm *not*
Dru. I know in the past, my actions have been similar to her. . . ."
She falters, but I don't fill in the blanks for her as I often do. I
want to hear what she has to say. She nibbles her lower lip. "I know
that you've seen me go back to Angel as Dru did, but really, I promise
it. . . wasn't. . . isn't the same." Tears spill over her cheeks, and
she seems to want to say something further, but instead chooses, "I'm not insane."

A chuckle rumbles forth from my throat, and she joins me with a nervous
laugh. Sniffing, she asks shyly, "So, what's this I hear about you being able to touch things now?"

This elicits a smile from me. "I can."

She juts her chin up a little, and her eyes sparkle. "Can you touch me?"

My stomach does a somersault in my gut. I haven't been touched in weeks. "Maybe."

She holds up her left hand. . . the one that still bears the mark of our last contact. My right hand tingles in phantom memory of the searing hot fire that engulfed our joined hands as the hellmouth came crashing down around us. "Please?" she asks.

How can I deny her? I hold my right hand up opposite hers. "We can

Focusing all my mental energy on my hand, I will my cells to coalesce and solidify, crossing the boundaries between reality and the supernatural. Almost instantly, I feel the cool drafts of the air conditioning over my palm and the back of my hand, making the tiny hairs on my knuckles stand on end. My fingers vibrate a bit as they sense the warmth of her flesh so close.

Buffy recognizes the change and slowly brings her palm to mine, closing
the gap between us. And then, without fanfare, she's touching me. I
shiver at the contact and marvel at how such a simple gesture can mean so much.

Awe is written across Buffy's face, and when she catches me watching her, she beams. "We're doing it! *You're* doing it. God, Spike, never stop touching me."

"Gee, if I'd have known this was how to get you to say that to me, I'd
have done the hero-turned-ghost bit sooner."

We exchange a grin, and suddenly, I can tell we both want more than just a single point of contact.

The sound of a door opening startles us out of our reverie, and the jolt forces us apart. I close my eyes as the loss of her touch becomes a reality in my mind. I struggle to grasp onto the last few seconds of
warmth that she imparted me. Then, in an instant, it is gone. I can't
even feel the cool drafts from the air conditioner or the floor beneath
my feet. My arms circle my ribcage. I can feel my ribs, but it can't
replace the loss of. . . *her* touch. I sneak a peek at her and note
that the color has left her cheeks. Is she as shaken as me?

"Buffy?" Angel calls into the laboratory from the next room. "Where are

I can't bring myself to view her now, but her tone tells me she's
uncomfortable. "I'm back here, Angel."

Angel's large form lumbers into the open doorway. "*Spike.*"

Bringing my arms to my sides, I force myself to appear relaxed. "What?
I'm not on your desk now. No need to make a fuss."

Ignoring me, Angel softens. "Buffy. What are you doing here?"

"Um. How did you know I was here?" Buffy is behind me but close by.

Angel points to the ceiling. "Mystics. They can tell when vampires and
demons enter the facility. . . and Slayers. The senior partners at
Wolfram and Hart never know who's going to walk in the doors and stir
things up."

"Ah. So, they try to minimize it by warning you?" Buffy guesses.

"Yep. Was out patrolling and got the page," Angel explains, and I note
the slime covering the left half of his body and bright red blood pouring out of his shoulder.

Buffy breezes by me and studies the wound, touching his arm with expert
hands. "You're bleeding."

Angel looks at her adoringly. "Yeah. It's no big though. Just a
Tra'lock demon. Had big spiny things sticking out of his head. I was
lucky I wasn't hurt worse."

"Right." She turns to me. "Spike, do they keep first aid supplies in

I look at Angel with defiance. "They do." I cross the room to one of
the little tables with drawers underneath. "Think Fred keeps them in
here." Squinting my eyes as I attempt to open the bottom drawer, I
carefully make extra mention of my relationship with the smart girl,
"This one time, she and I were here working late, and she cut her hand on a beaker she accidentally broke in one of her experiments. Had to help her wrap it up."

Angel invades my space and drags open the drawer. "Thank you, Spike," he says dismissively.

I back off as he strips off his shirt and marches over to Buffy in an
obvious attempt at marking his territory. . . the way Gunn had, only
without the pissing in corners.

Unwrapping some adhesive gauze, Buffy states, "Spike. I need to talk
with Angel for a few minutes."

Feeling overwhelmed by all the lines being drawn in the proverbial sand, I take a quick look at Buffy and Angel who are now solely focused on one another.

Defeat consumes me, and closing my eyes to hold back my anger and hurt, I exit the laboratory and retreat to the empty office that Fred delegated to me a week ago.

Until recently, it had belonged to one of the employees Lorne had deemed evil. I'm not sure what the demon from Pylea looks for in the employees' songs, but I know that he somehow detects evil amidst the cacophony of mumbled words and broken notes.

The room has vaulted ceilings and a long stretch of furniture-less carpet that gives me more area than I'll ever need. I don't like the space, and until now, I found it to be too unwelcoming to stay in for any length of time.

Now, the empty place matches my mood. I've never felt so empty or alone. Another betrayal by Buffy. It's the last straw. Has anyone ever loved me? No one's bloody likely to in my current state.

* * *

I stand at the window and gaze out over the city, immersed in my
emotions. Lights dot the buildings like fireflies, winking on and off in a dance of motion that only my vampire vision can detect.

When I am calm enough to form a coherent thought, I wonder how many
people out there feel as I do. . . unwanted, unloved.

How many people live as long as I do and never know love?

Cecily never cared a whit for me. Dru split her attention between
Angelus and me. Buffy never stopped loving Angel. There have been three
women in my life, and none have truly loved me.

And what is love? A choice.

No one has ever chosen me.

"I chose you."

I knew she was in the room. I'd heard her enter, standing on her tiptoes to make the least sound when crossing into my turf. She'd better tread lightly.

I don't say anything for several seconds. Then, "I didn't realize I was
talking out loud."

"You do that sometimes. I remember," she says, standing behind me. "You
used to talk to yourself when you thought I was still asleep. You'd be
getting dressed to go out for blood or something, and you'd talk about
all sorts of stuff."

"Probably bored you to tears," I say evenly.

"No, I thought it was kinda cute."

"Like you thought my crypt was *cozy.*"

"Yeah, I did!" she insists, and I feel my hurt dissipate a little as it
always does in her presence.


"Aren't you going to ask me what I talked with Angel about?"

"No," I say. "That's your business. Not mine. I'm not gonna cross any
lines here. Angel wants me to quit barging in on his territory, and
maybe it's time I listened. In the end, all it will do is hurt me. So,
from now on, I'm sticking to my own space."

"Here in this awful room?"

I stiffen but agree, "Yes."

"Okay. If that's what you want." She's closer than she was.

"It is."

"You can only stay here if. . ." she trails off.

And without warning, I feel slender arms circle my waist, and then, a
warm, solid body press against my back. Her head rests between my
shoulder blades. My brain can't fathom the sensory overload in my body,
and my eyes widen.

"What the hell?" I ask without an ounce of anger or enmity. . . just

". . .if I get to stay here, too." she finishes, pressing her face into
my spine and planting a gentle kiss there.

I close my eyes to absorb the fact that someone is touching me. . . that someone is *holding* me. And that someone is *Buffy.* I don't want her to ever let me go.

I hardly hear her next words, "That's what I was talking with Angel
about. Wanted to tell him what I was going to do since we are kind of in his building. Willow made this potion that allows me to touch you.
She's been working on some way to help you since she heard you came back. She didn't have access to the right supplies or understand enough about your situation to make you corporeal, but she could give me this."

"Red did this?" I ask, not bothering to disguise my awe. I didn't think
the bird actually liked me.

"Yes. She did it for both of us." Buffy slips her hands up to tug my
crossed arms down and cradle them against her forearms.

Slowly recovering, I bring my hands over hers and twine my fingers with
hers. "For how long? You're not a ghost, too, are you?"

"I'm still me. Still human. Still able to do all the things I used to.
And how long am I staying? As long as you want. I've crossed the
boundaries into your world, and I'm not going back."

"Really?" I'm still not sure I believe her.

"Really," she assures.

Gently, I turn to face her, and her face is bright and hopeful in the
light of the full moon. I bring my fingers up to caress her cheek and
smile. She threads her fingers through my curls and starts to draw my
head toward hers.

Then, I have to ask, "Why didn't you tell me about this spell of yours

Her eyes are wide and earnest, and she sweeps the back of her fingers
over my forehead and cheek. "'Cause I wanted to see how much you could
do on your own. I wanted to show you that I believe in you. I wanted
you to know that I know you don't need a spell but that the spell can
help until you get stronger."

My skin is on fire after the lack of contact with others, especially her. When our foreheads are pressed together and her warm breath is laving over my lips, the reality of what we're about to do hits me.

And like an idiot, I disrupt the moment again. "What about Angel?"

"Angel?" she asks, her eyes confused behind the glaze of desire. "What
about him?"

"Wouldn't you rather be with him?" I can't help it. I have to know.

She takes that moment to hit my bicep. "What kind of question is that
when I'm standing here with you?"

"Maybe he rejected you on account of the soul-curse thing and all."

She rolls her eyes toward the ceiling as if deep in thought. "Hmmmm.
Let's see. I told him that I wanted to be with you. That took all of
about. . . oh, say, ten seconds. Then, the rest of the time was spent
with him trying to talk me out of it. . . topped with another twenty
minutes of him ranting about how you're not good enough for me. . . ."

"Sounds about right," I interrupt.

"Not finished yet," she informs me, lowering her gaze to mine. She moves her hands to the small of my back and draws tender circles in muscles I hadn't realized were tight. She sucks on her bottom lip and repositions her eyes. "Let's see. Where was I? Oh, yes. Angel. Ranting followed by rationalizing my behavior, analyzing my motives, and telling me how dangerous Willow's spells can be. Followed by him telling me he'll always love me." I shrink back a bit at that, but she holds me closer. "And finally that was rounded out with an extremely unenthusiastic blessing."

I arch an eyebrow at her. "Blessing?"

She giggles. "As close as we'll get with him grumbling and stomping out
of the room." She pauses and surveys me. "Now that I think about it, it
was kind of like your exit."

I smirk at her. No one has ever made me feel more alive than the girl. . . woman in my arms.

"Yeah, grin all you like, Mister. I don't even know if *you* want *me.*" She's on the verge of a pout.

Her words are all the permission I need.

A deep, possessive growl springs from the back of my throat, and I nuzzle her cheek while she gasps. I keep things simple and focus on her upper body. Not sure if either of us is ready for anything more. Her skin smells of fresh soap with a hint of rose, and her heart is pounding wildly against my chest. She is a beautiful creature when scrubbed free of every hint of adornment. Her bun loosens under my touch so that her golden hair cascades over her shoulders in thick waves.

Cognizant of our past, I let her take the lead when it comes to further
contact. She responds to my hesitation by turning my head and pressing
her lips to mine. Her mouth is hot and alive and tastes of strawberry
lip-gloss. She keeps things simple, but I don't press, relishing the
rhythmic flow of our movements.

She finally needs air and pulls back, drawing in a deep breath. Heart
still hammering, she wraps her arms around me and holds me fast against
the length of her body. Then, she starts trembling, and I feel something wet on my shirt.

"Buffy, what's wrong, love?" I ask, running my hands over her thin
shoulders. I hadn't noticed it before, but she's thinner than she was. . . if that's possible.

She cries quietly for a while and then, "Promise you're not going to go

My heart aches for the poor girl in my arms who has lost just about
everyone she's ever loved. "I'm not going anywhere, love. You're too
far into my world now."

"Promise?" Her voice is slightly muffled against my now sodden shirt,
but she's not crying anymore.


Her arms tighten even more around me. "Good." She pauses. "Know what?"

"What, pet?"

"I want to get out of this room. And I'm hungry." True to her word, her
stomach growls. "Got any food around this dump of an evil law firm?"

She reaches down for my hand, maintaining contact with me but withdrawing her body from mine. This time, the loss of touch isn't so bad because I know the lines between us can be crossed again.

I guide her toward the door but stop at the threshold. "I think there's
a cafeteria around here somewhere if I can just remember where."

She's incredulous. "A cafeteria in a law firm?"

"Yep. They even have a hair salon and a pharmacy." Then, I recall
something that I want to share with her. "Hey, I just remembered
something I did today."

"What's that?" she asks, tugging me forward.

"I slept for the first time since I came back," I announce. "I'm not
sure what it means. . ."

She grins at me. "That's something, right? A step back into the world
of the living?"

"I think so, love. I think so."

And we shut the door on the empty room.

The end.