Buffy hastily scribbled down a note to Dawn, walked over to the door, and waited for Spike to follow her out. After firmly shutting the door behind them, they descended the stairs in silence. They walked so close together that their hands brushed against each other a couple of times. Spike smiled noting that she had not drawn away from his touch.
They stood outside the apartment building, neither sure what to do next. Buffy turned to look at him, her face framed by the moonlight. God she was in one of the most romantic cities in the world and she was tongue-tied she thought desperately as she looked away.
Spike looked down at her, she was still the most beautiful thing that he had ever seen in his existence. He had been wrong to stay away so long, he knew that now. He could have been here a month sooner if it hadn't been for his own personal stupidity. He silently thanked Angel for giving him no choice in the matter.
Spike was pulled back into the now by Buffy tugging at his sleeve.
"You just gonna stand around all night, or are we going to talk?" she asked.
"Well, I didn't come all this way to play catch up, did I?" he asked.
He allowed Buffy to lead him across the square. It was almost deserted as most of the tourists had long since retired to their beds. Only the faint strains of music from one of the many late night establishments could still be heard. They sat down on the edge of the fountain. She sighed at the sound of the water as it calmed her ragged nerves.
A stray lock of her hair escaped its confines. Spike automatically tucked it behind her ear, his hand coming to rest on her cheek. He could see the beginnings of tears forming in her eyes. She tried blinking them back as before, but her eyes wouldn't cooperate as tear after hot tear fell down her face. It was stupid that so simple a gesture could bring on such a flood of emotion she told herself angrily.
Spike moved closer, wrapping his arms around her as he stroked her hair. The racking sobs that shook her body almost moved him to do the same. They sat like that for about five minutes before Buffy lifted her tearstained face to look at him.
She wiped at her eyes and looked at him apologetically.
"Sorry didn't mean to wail all over you,"
"That's okay pet. Was that the first time you have er cried since it all happened?" Asked Spike gently.
"I have worked so hard these past four months. Training girls, moving around Europe, trying to make a life for Dawnie and myself, but when you showed up here tonight I realised one thing," said Buffy.
"What's that?" he encouraged.
"That's it's all been window dressing. I did the exact same thing after mom died. If I kept busy, then I didn't have to feel, but the pain was always there under the surface,"
"Denial Buffy? I know her as well as the other Buffies," Spike smiled ruefully.
She couldn't help the giggle that escaped her lips.
"You always have been able to read me, sometimes better than I could myself. Where did you learn such insight?" asked Buffy.
"By watching you and maybe a little stalking in the far and distant past," he grinned.
Her expression changed as she looked at him.
"I'm sorry that I have been so cold to you since you showed up. I didn't mean to be, but how do you greet a guy that you thought was up until a couple of hours ago, dead?" asked Buffy.
"It's okay, I understand. They didn't exactly have a parade when I materialised in Angel's office either," he replied.
"I can imagine Casper," she teased.
"Oh bloody hell, the git told you didn't he?" asked Spike.
"A little," Buffy grabbed a hold of his sleeve, pushing the material up. "I'm more interested in these though," she replied as she exposed his injured arms.
Spike looked away.
"All in the line of duty. It didn't hurt that much really," he lied.
"It happened because of me. I sent Andrew and the girls off, to deal with Dana. I should have gone myself. Then I would have known about you sooner, all I ever seem to do is hurt you," she admonished herself.
He growled in frustration.
"I could kill Angel for shooting his mouth off. Don't blame yourself for something you had no knowledge of Buffy. These things happen in the fight for right, you know that," he replied dismissively.
"So, have you given my statement any consideration since I last saw you?" asked Buffy.
"Given what any consideration?" he asked in confusion.
"Oh, I don't know, maybe the flamey hands and the I love you Spike, followed by the no, you don't but thanks for saying it speech," she replied heatedly.
"Oh, I wondered when we were going to get around to that," he said in surprise.
"So the questions remain, did you believe me or not? Or did you just tell me I didn't mean it, to get rid of me?" she asked.
"A little of both I guess," he sighed. "You weren't going anywhere fast Buffy. If I had gone all hearts and flowers on you, you might have decided to stay. As I died I had a smile on my face, because of you, knowing that you were safe," he finished quietly.
Buffy felt fresh tears spring to her eyes.
"I did mean it you know. The I love you," she smiled through her tears.
The words from long ago, 'If my heart could beat it would break my chest' sprung to Spike's mind, but his insecurities were still plaguing him.
"Yeah, I know as a friend," he replied.
"Do you want me to beat some sense into you?" she asked.
Spike studied her face, reading the truth in her eyes. He pulled her against him and crushed her lips to his. Her arms snaked up around his neck as she returned his passion in full. Desperation, grief, longing and most of all love transpired it's self as their lips communicated to each other what their words could not.
They broke apart. She smiled shyly at him. Buffy was still too moved by their kiss to speak. It had felt like their kisses from before, but different. There had been tenderness in their touch this time, something that had been sadly lacking in their previous relationship. Oh, Spike had wanted to be tender in those dark times, when they had been lovers, but she had always rebuffed any affection he had tried to show her.
This was new to him; it had taken all of his strength to not break down and sob like a child as he'd experienced the first kiss in his 100+ years that had been given him in love. She meant it. She really meant it, he realised as his face lit up with a smile.
"I love you Buffy,"
"And I love you too, for real as a woman loves a man in a totally non friend kinda way," she said firmly.
"Okay I get it," he held up his hands in surrender.
The clock from one of the many churches began chiming as it struck the midnight hour. Buffy stood up, fumbling in her jeans pocket.
"Dammit!" she cursed.
"What is it love?" asked Spike.
Buffy fished the coin she was looking for from her pocket, she turned her back to the fountain and quickly threw in the coin as the last strike of the clock fell.
"Okay, I won't even begin to pretend to know what that was all about," said Spike as he raised an eyebrow at her.
"It's just a thing, I throw a coin in everyday. Nearly didn't do it in time, don't want to tempt fate and certainly not now," she smiled.
"What did you wish for?" he asked.
"I don't know if I should say, it's been the same wish everyday," she replied.
"Buffy, come on just say it,"
"Fine, but don't blame me if it goes all wrong. I wished for the same thing every day from the very first coin…I wished to have another chance to tell you that I loved you," she sighed.
Spike smiled adoringly at her.
"You've already done that,"
"I know, but tonight I made a new wish…to make a life with you," she admitted.
Spike drew in a ragged unnecessary breath.
"You really want a flawed idiot such as myself hanging around? There are things I've done since I was back, things that I am not proud of, " Spike admitted.
"Sssh, do you think any of that matters. I want you in spite of your flaws. Don't see myself about to be granted sainthood any time soon either," said Buffy.
"You did the best you could Buff, Sunnydale was no one's fault, but I did go out with a bang didn't I?" asked Spike.
"More like a nuclear explosion. You totalled the place," grinned Buffy.
Spike's smile faded.
"Sorry about Anya. Dawn told me,"
"Yeah, a lot of the girls didn't make it out either," said Buffy sadly.
"Sunnydale was a bad time, but times change,"
"I'm hoping they will now," she answered.
Spike bent his head to kiss her again.
"You can count on it," Spike said.
Buffy shivered in the cooling night air. Autumn was starting to set in and the warm summer nights had begun to fade.
"You're cold, maybe we'd better go back in. I would offer to keep you warm, but being room temperature kind of puts the damper on that," he remarked, as he noticed her tremble.
"I want to stay a little longer, and enjoy this bella notte," she smiled.
"Oh and she speaks Italian too, what other hidden talents do you have la mia bella dea," he grinned.
"Okay, show off, I won't even begin to guess what you just called me, but I liked it. You can talk Italian to me any time," Buffy sighed.
"I called you my beautiful goddess," he replied.
Spike got up from his position on the edge of the fountain, and started to walk off.
"Spike where are you going?" she asked in confusion.
"You'll see," he replied.
Spike made his way over to the left side of the fountain. He extracted his silver hip flask from the inside of his duster. He grinned as he looked at it. He'd swiped it from Angel's personal collection of antiquities. He tipped the contents of the flask into the fountain, and filled it up with water from the smaller fountain.
Buffy watched him, realising his intentions as she waited patiently for his return. She had seen couples do this a thousand times before. She had envied them their happiness, but she was finally getting her own personal piece of heaven. Spike walked back over to her with the flask.
Their eyes met, as she took the flask from his hand and took a large mouthful. She handed it back to him and he did the same. Spike pulled a strange expression as he turned and spat it out, Buffy did the same.
"Bleedin hell, it tastes like someone has taken a piss in it," he choked.
Buffy wiped her mouth and burst into a fit of giggles.
"I think we just went above and beyond the call of duty. People usually just wet their lips with it, now I think I know why,"
Spike smiled at her.
"Apart from spoiling my romantic gesture, the important thing is that we've done it. We have both drank from the fountain of lovers, you know what it means?" asked Spike.
"I know the legend. Couples that drink from the fountain will be forever faithful to their partner, but I don't need some legend to tell me that this is a forever deal,"
"You don't?" asked Spike.
Buffy leaned into kiss him, drawing back just before their lips touched.
"Ew, you have fountain breath," she smiled.
"So do you," he replied before kissing her once more.
· * * * * * * * * * * * *
Dawn closed the balcony doors with a satisfied smile on her face, only feeling the tiniest pang of guilt for having spied on them for the past half an hour. So, they had finally stopped acting like a pair of dumb asses and got their act together.
"It's about damn time," Dawn said aloud.
She got back into bed and switched off her light. A contented smile on her lips as she drifted off to sleep.