Title: Second Verse

Pairing: S/B

Rating: G


"You're a dope!" she shouted, echoing her words to him on that long-ago night when she'd found the scythe.

"I'm a what?" He must have looked dumbfounded again, as he had then, unconsciously falling into this not-so-instant replay of theirs. Then he collected himself, shaking it off. Huffing, he glanced to one side of her angry face, not quite meeting her eyes. "Already played that scene, luv," he said, his voice coming out low and rumbling. "No need to go repeatin' ourselves. Was never our style."

"Screw style! I mean it. You're a big, fat dope!"

His gaze returned to her face, a puzzled crease wrinkling his forehead, and he saw the anger rush out of her like air from a deflating balloon. She looked bitterly disappointed and weary beyond belief.

To his dismay, her lower lip started to quiver and her eyes filled with tears. "You know…knew me, Spike. Better than anyone ever has. How could you say what you did? How could you not know, right when it mattered most? You knew before. And…okay…so I couldn't admit it to anyone. But you knew how I felt."

Running a hand through his already mussed hair, he glanced around. The bar where she'd tracked him down was rapidly clearing out, the late hour sending even the die-hards weaving toward the door. But as the noise level abated, they had started to attract a small but interested crowd.

He sighed. All the time he'd spent imagining this moment, it had never gone remotely like this. He should have known better. Nothing between them had ever been easy.

"Buffy…pet…didn't mean to upset you. Just wanted you to be happy, is all. I thought…maybe I was wrong. Thought things had changed. That you'd moved on."

The quivering stopped as her mouth fell open.

"Moved on? Moved. On!" A fire ignited in her still-brimming eyes and her gaze narrowed dangerously. "Is that what you think of me? That I'm so…so fickle? That I just say, 'Hey! Tired of this. On to the next one!' and off I go without a single backward glance?" She waved her hands around, forcing him to duck to avoid a smack in the face.

"Well…" He stopped, rethinking just in the nick of time what he was about to say. Luckily, Buffy didn't seem to notice.

"Because if that's what you think, then you don't know me at all! If that's what you think, then I don't even know what I'm doing here now! Why did I spend all this time looking for you? You're the one who screwed up, not me. Not this time." She bit her lip. "So, okay…maybe I could have handled it a little better. Or…a lot better. But I'm not the one who dropped off the face of the planet just because…because..." Her words slowed and her eyes widened for an instant. Then her eyelashes swept down to hide her gaze. "…because somebody acted like a raving lunatic instead of appreciating the best thing that's ever happened in her whole possibly abbreviated life."

She looked up, lower lip jutting out adorably, eyes dark with remorse. Her voice sounded very small. "If it helps any, I'm officially changing my name to Bitca."

Spike felt the tension in the room drain away like water from a tub. He relaxed, his gaze softening as he wordlessly opened his arms. An instant later, he held a warm armful of Buffy. Burying his face in her hair, he inhaled deeply, reveling in her delicate scent as his arms tightened around her. When he felt something hot and damp against his neck he pulled back just enough to kiss away a few stray tears.

She mumbled something unintelligible. He asked her to repeat it.

"I said I'm so stoopid." Lowering her head, she butted it against his chest like a discontented kitten.

A faint smile touched his lips. "You're not stupid. You're scared, is all. So you latched on to the one thing that you could find to get worked up about. Focus on that one thing and you don't have to think about the rest."

She pulled back, squinting up at him. "God, you really do know me better than anyone." She sniffed. "It's not that I'm not happy about it. It's just…no one ever asked me to marry them before. I never really thought it was an option for me. Especially with us. I mean…considering everything. We're not exactly a conventional couple."

Snorting softly he smiled again, his eyes caressing her upturned face. "Far as I know, love, there's no law against it. Reckon we can live dangerously. We're good at that, yeah?"

She smiled back at him, and the sheer brilliance of it took his breath away. Metaphorically speaking. "Yeah," she whispered. "We really are."

He wasn't sure if she jumped him or he grabbed her, but suddenly they were kissing in a way that wasn't at all appropriate for their current location. As evidenced by the round of whistles, cat calls, and hearty applause that dragged them to their senses.

Spike pulled away from Buffy's hungry lips long enough to give them all the evil eye. The cat calls ceased and the crowd scattered. Seconds later, they were the last patrons left in the bar.

Yeah. He still had it. Even if he'd retired his Big Bad title.

Too bad the bartender wasn't impressed.

"Closing time, folks. Take it to a motel room."

Buffy looked at the man like she couldn't decide between death or dismemberment, but money talks and Spike let his have a say. Enough, at least, to gain them an extra twenty minutes.

As the man retreated behind the bar, smugly unaware of his close call, Buffy turned back to Spike. This time her smile was wry, but no less delightful to him.

"Lesson learned tonight? Saving the world's a breeze compared to planning a wedding. Who knew I'd finally crack under the pressure? Guess I understand a little better now what Xander and Anya went through." She planted a soft kiss on the tip of his nose as her arms found their way around his neck. "I'm sorry. It really doesn't matter what song we have and I hate that I got all bad moody about it. I really do like Josh Groban. It was sweet of you to suggest him. Very above and beyond. Or…hey! You want the Sex Pistols? We can do that."

Her gesture warmed his unbeating heart, and Spike actually made a show of considering it a moment before he shook his head. "Nah…got a better idea."

Gently disengaging from her embrace, he strode to the old-fashioned jukebox standing in a corner of the bar. It didn't take him long to find what he was after then he was back, standing before Buffy. As he took her in his arms, the music started to play.

She gazed up at him, her eyes again filling with tears. "You big dope. You didn't forget."

"Course not. And shame on you for thinkin' I had. It's our song, you silly bint. Used to listen to it over and over, just thinkin' about you. Dreamin' about the two of us together like this."

"Really?" she asked, head moving to rest against his chest.

But Spike didn't answer. Just smiled and pulled her closer.

And as the strains of Wind Beneath My Wings wafted through the darkened bar, they danced on…



A/N: Just a schmoopy and silly little follow-up to Unfinished Business (set very, very post-Unfinished Business). Hope you enjoyed!