The next day was routine for Buffy. She worked, worked out and then went home where she ate a rather dull meal for one and played on her computer. It was sort of neat to be able talk to Willow, Dawn, and Xander without having to pay for long distance phone calls.

Sundays were busy at work because she taught three skating classes. It was a popular day for skating lessons, one day a week parents did not have to rush to and from work to get their kids there. She looked forward to her evening of indulging in watching TV, popping some popcorn and drinking a Mike's Hard Lemonade. One thing about no longer being an active slayer, she could have a drink or two without worrying about it impairing her too severely.

Being Sunday there was not much on TV, but she left it on while she painted her toenails. She had just finished when the buzzer rang. She sighed, hoping it was not Colum changing his mind about giving her time and walked to the window. There was a car parked out front with its windows blackened to the point of zero visibility. "Three guesses for Buffy who it is," she whispered, apprehensive about seeing him. "And the first two don't count."

She pressed the button allowing him into the building and stood at the door leading to her apartment listening to the sound of his boots on the steps as he walked up them. He was whistling something, thankfully not the song The First had programmed him with. If Buffy never heard that song again she would die happy.

"You shouldn't stand there with your door open, Slayer, you never know who might be calling."

"I don't know anyone else in Chicago with a car with its windows blackened out."

"Still, you never can be too safe. This isn't Sunnydale anymore."

"Are you accusing me of being helpless?"

"Never that, Luv, but you never know what type of big bad you might encounter here. And you're all by your lonesome. Do you even have your weapons?"

"I have weapons."

He chuckled lightly. "Besides your fists?"

"Yes," she said with a pout.

"Aww, don't pout, Pet, I was only teasing," he said as he stood in her doorway.

"Well, are you going to come in or not?" He cleared his throat and just looked at her with those blue eyes. "Oh, sorry, come in, Spike," she said.

"Has it really been that slow for you?"

"I haven't slayed a vamp in over a month," she said.

"Looks like you picked the right place to settle down in then."

"I never said anything about settling down here."

"You sure looked pretty cozy with your beau last night."

"Until you interrupted."

"Are you upset that I did?"

She would love to tell him that she was and that she never wanted to see him again because of it, but she would be a liar. She suspected he knew that. "No, in a way I'm glad you called."

"I don't think I could have watched you go at it there and then, Slayer. So it was either interrupt you with an untimely phone call or break into your apartment and kill him on the spot."

"And you would have been able to break into my apartment how?"

"A minor setback."

"And you've gone back to killing humans since when?" She frowned then. "You do still have your soul, right?"

"Yes, Slayer, I'm the same as last time you saw me. I'd like to think I'm the new and improved Spike. You know, Version 2.0 and all that crap."

"I don't think the old Spike was too bad."

"You say that now."

"It just took me a while to realize it, that's all."

"So, this is where you live?" he asked, his eyes scanning the room.

"This is it," she said softly. Buffy was suddenly embarrassed by her humble apartment. It never bothered her to have Colum here, but the point of her no longer being THE slayer was so that she could have a life for a change. This apartment, the fact she had no car and had to work weekends said little about her succeeding in living that life.

"You're talking to a man who lived in a crypt, Luv."

"True," she said. "I'd give you the grand tour, but with the divider curtain pulled back this is the grand tour." How pathetic was she?

"Why do you need more than this for now anyway?"

"Stop that!"

"What?"

"Reading my mind."

"Not hard to do, at least not right now. Why are you so nervous?"

"I'm not!"

"Don't lie to me, Slayer, I can smell it."

"What that I'm lying?"

He scoffed at her then. "You know what I mean."

"Have a seat. I don't have any blood to offer you."

"No problem, I'm set," he said sitting on the couch. It was the obvious place for him to sit, given the only other chair in the room was rather shabby looking.

She glanced at him then, unable to wrap her mind around the fact that she had not seen him in two years. It was the longest they had gone without seeing one another since they had known each other. It was too long as far as Buffy was concerned. "I've got some frozen hot wings I could cook or something else I'm sure."

"Buffy, quit acting like June Cleaver and sit down with me."

She sat, choosing to sit next to him on the couch rather than the shabby chair that she was not confident would not collapse if someone did actually sit on it. She had never put it to the test because other than Colum she had never had a guest in her apartment before.

"How have you been," he asked.

"Since last night you mean? How do you think I've been? Colum probably won't talk to me again and he thinks I'm cheating on him in order to trap him into marrying me."

"I meant in general, Luv, but what are you going on about? Because if I know one thing about you it's that you're a one guy at a time woman."

She shook her head. "Never mind, it's not important. Why now? Why did you come back now, Spike?"

"When I found out you were back in the States I knew you had to have finished with The Immortal."

"He finished with me was more like it."

"What?"

"It was part of some plan to get Angel to Rome."

He laughed heartily, draping an arm behind her on the back of the couch. "You're kidding me?"

"What is so funny about that?"

"I'm sorry, Luv, but one thing I can say is that if you weren't of interest to The Immortal to begin with no one could have convinced him to do anything."

"Sure, and the only reason I was of interest was because I'm a slayer. He said he'd never been with one before."

"Oh, Pet, you're hurt because that bloke pulled a Parker on you?"

"No," she said softly, knowing she was not convincing.

"Buffy," he said gruffly. "Look at me."

She did not want to look at him. If she did it would be her undoing. He was seeing her during a vulnerable moment and he knew her far better than anyone else. She did, though, glancing into his eyes coyly, hoping he would not ensnare her in his web. She realized too late that he already had long ago. "What?" she asked pouting again.

"There is a reason I'm here."

"I knew it," she said, pushing herself out from under his arm. He grabbed a hold of her, though, his arm encircling her waist preventing her from standing up.

"Buffy, wait."

"No, I knew it. Did Giles send you?"

"Bloody hell, Slayer, no. No one sent me. I came here because I was going to say good bye for good. I was going to move on with my life, without you in it. But I had to see you were happy and all right before I did it."

"I was happy."

"I know you were, Luv, and I'm sorry if I threw a wrench in it. But I realized as much as I wanted to and as much as I said I was going to I can't just give up like that."

"Spike," she interjected softly, relaxing against him.

"I mean, I went to the ends of the earth to get my soddin' soul for you, I wore that amulet and helped saved the world but I wouldn't have done it if you didn't have a chance of surviving and seeing another day."

"Spike," she repeated. She was no longer mad, no longer believed that he had come to her only to tell her he needed the slayer not Buffy.

"What?"

She looked at him and offered him a smile. "Do you want me?"

"What kind of question is that?"

"Answer it."

"Of course, I never stopped wanting you. Christ, just because I stayed away from you, for you, doesn't mean that I didn't want you every second of every day. The past few years have always been about you, Buffy."

She held up her hand and shook her head. She did not want to hear about his quest or how everything he had done had been for her. She believed that Spike did those things for his own benefit, too. He certainly had not come back to Sunnydale and pushed for another chance with her.

"Just shut up and kiss me, Spike." She thought for a moment he was not going to. She was surprised that she had come right out and said it so boldly. He was looking at her, seemingly surprised as well. And then his mouth found hers, fitting perfectly as he had when they first kissed under Willow's spell. Her arms went around his neck, drawing him to her, deepening the kiss. She was suddenly very glad he was in her life again. She found it hard to believe she was willing to settle for someone who did not arouse the feelings in her Spike did with hardly any effort at all.

There was no apocalypse, the world was not ending and yet Buffy felt the world as she knew it slip away. He was here and she no longer wanted to be with the safe guy. She wanted this, wanted to be taken away from everything with a simple kiss even if the guy doing it was the bad boy who would lead her back into a world full of death and darkness.

She drew away, looking into his eyes for any indication that this was a joke or that he was not here to stay. She could not bear it if he left her again, no matter the reason. If the world was going to end again, she would let it go away with him right there with her watching its demise. She did not think she could do a repeat of sending her lover to hell in order to save the world. She saw nothing there but the same relief she felt that they had not missed out on the opportunity to be with one another.

"I think he knew I was going to choose you."

"He'd be a bloody idiot not to. I'm way better looking than he is."

Buffy laughed at that. "You are way better looking than most men period, Spike."

"Forgive me for waiting so long?"

"I guess."

"I was just trying to give you some time. I knew you needed it to be sure."

"Did you?"

"Yeah," he said almost hesitant to admit that.

"I love you," she whispered, placing a light kiss on his mouth. "Please believe me this time."

"I do, Luv, I do. Of course, if you wanted to try to prove it to me by showing me just how much I'd be game."

"You would, would you?"

"Most definitely, slayer."

"Well, how about a good night's sleep in Buffy's bed?" His scarred brow arced in question at her suggestion. "I'd like to start off the way we finished before. As friends."

"Anything you want, Pet."

"This is it," she said before kissing him again.

The End

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Story ┬ęSusan