What if

Disclaimer: I own nothing, all the characters belong to Joss Whedon.

„Why does everyone in this house think I'm still in love with Spike?"

Willow looked patiently at Buffy. "Because you are."

Buffy stared at her open mouthed before her expression changed into one of outrage. "I most certainly am not!"

Willow squirmed uneasily, but kept going. "More than ever Buffy. You just don't want to see it."

"I just don't…" Buffy spluttered. "You're the one who's not seeing properly."

"What am I not seeing? The way you spend most of your time with him; the way you're fussing over him? Or the way you care for him like you never did before? The way you're looking at him? Buffy, we're not blind."

Buffy was glaring at her. "So what, I care for him, all right. It's not like he doesn't deserve it. Someone should look out for him, it's not as if anyone of you would do it. Doesn't mean I love him," she finished. Then she seemed to pick up on something; she looked at Willow in shock. "What do you mean with 'we'?"

"I told you Buffy, it's obvious." Now Willow looked really uneasy.

"Have you all gone crazy? I'm not in love with Spike!" And with that she turned around and hurried up the stairs; just to run into the arms of the subject of their conversation.

"Spike." She looked at him with wide eyes. Had he heard anything Willow had said?

"Is everything all right? You look all flushed and agitated, some news about the first?"

Relief washed over her. "No. No, everything's fine, I just…it's nothing." And with that she rushed by him and to the safety of her bedroom, leaving a bewildered Spike behind.

She sat down on her bed and took a deep breath. What was Willow thinking? Yes, she still had feelings for Spike, she admitted that. Over these last months she had started caring about him more than she had ever thought possible. And sometimes, sometimes her mind travelled into directions it shouldn't. Like when he had taken her hand in the graveyard when she had been trying to examine his ribs.

But her and Spike was over. And it was supposed to stay that way. She couldn't do that to him again, being with him and in the end not being able to give him what he wanted. They had been there once, it wouldn't happen a second time.

What they had at the moment was something precious, they had established a trust between them which hadn't existed before, at least not on her part. She didn't want to destroy it by being physical with him again. It could just lead to no good, she knew it.

She stood up and looked at herself in the mirror. She saw her blond hair tied back in a ponytail, the silver earrings she had put on that morning and her face set in a determined expression.

She had a date now; a date with a normal, nice guy who was not at least one hundred years older than her. It was time she got over her exes.

Especially exes who lived in the same house with her and whose touch was like the brush of a feather… She shook her head, reprimanding herself. That wasn't love, or was it?

When she looked up again, she just saw her reflection staring back at her with wide eyes.

Everything was going well with her date. The French food was melting on her tongue, it was so delicious, and the fact that the principal was feeding it to her made it much more so. At least she thought so till she noticed Spike looking down on her, a serious and definitely unhappy expression on his face. What the hell was he doing here?

When he told her Xander was in trouble, she was somewhat relieved that he hadn't followed her in a jealous frenzy, but then, a really tiny part of her wished he had. He was so resigned and noble these days, it was scaring her.

They got into the car, an uneasy silence between the three of them. Then after some time the dreaded question came. "So, how do you two know each other?"

"He works with me," she answered in a hurry. "Uh, you know, in the struggle against evil." How would she ever be able to explain the thing that was her and Spike? It was so complicated, she didn't even fully understand it herself. And anyway, now was not the time to tell the principal that he was her ex. Not the best thing to impose that detail on your date. She kept her silence, painfully aware of Spike's presence behind her.

Then they found Xander hanging above the seal, being bled so that it would open, his date standing in front of him, watching in anticipation.

Hell, that bitch had it coming and it was with a satisfied thrust that Buffy cut her head off.

Then she ran to Spike who had been smashed against the wall. Worried, she checked him over, looking for injuries. To her relief, she didn't find any. She looked at his face, his gaze staring back at her, and for a moment she was lost. Then she remembered Xander and the Principal and hurried over to them. After making out that Xander's wound wasn't serious, they headed home.

When they entered her home, they were greeted by an agitated Dawn and a sulking Anya. Xander launched into a report of the night's events, but Buffy blocked him out; her eyes had wandered to Spike standing in the doorway. For the first time in a long time, she really looked at him, studied him really. The way he was standing, not clad in black and without his coat - God, how she had loved that coat – the smile on his face that was so totally him. The slightly crooked way his head was tilted as he listened to Xander wanting to turn gay. And her heart stopped for a moment. She had never noticed before how much she was aware of his gestures.

Down in the basement, when the fight had been over, her first thought had been of him; panic rising inside her that he might be hurt. Not of Xander, her long-term best friend, no, just of him. What did that mean?

Spike had caught her looking at him and gave her a curious stare. She quickly turned her head and focused on Giles who had just interrupted Xander with a shout. She really didn't want Spike to notice her staring, she was too afraid he would figure out her thoughts like he always did. He was good at that, always had been. Even when they had been enemies.

That seemed like a lifetime ago. She remembered how she had hated the mere sight of him. She smiled slightly, my God had he been annoying. He could still be annoying, but she liked it. How that came to be, she still couldn't figure out. She looked at him again, but caught herself this time. Damn Willow for making her question herself. But maybe, maybe it was time that she figured out her feelings.

Late that night she was sitting on the couch, curled up in herself. She knew she should probably be upstairs and get some rest, but she couldn't. It seemed like the only thing she had been doing since her conversation with Willow was thinking and she couldn't seem to stop either. What was wrong with her? Angry with herself, but depressed at the same time, she fumbled with her sweater.

Then she heard quiet footsteps and she knew who it was before she saw him in the doorway. She looked up at him wearily as he sat beside her on the couch.

"Did anybody tell you what happened around here tonight?"

"Willow did. The First is back in the mix." Her voice was quiet; yet another thing she had to worry about.

"It, uh, it talked to the little boy. Said it wasn't time for me yet." He turned to look at her. "I should move out. Leave town before it is time for me." He said it in such a tone as if he waited for approval or for her to refuse.

"No, you have to stay." She didn't look at him as she said it, but the notion of him not being there was unbearable.

"You've got another demon fighter now."

Now she looked at him. Why could he not see it? "That's not why I need you here."

"Is that right? Why's that then?"

And there was the question; the question which she had tried to figure out for herself the whole day. Why could she neither let go of him, nor give him what he wanted? With Angel she had given her love so willingly, without any doubts or qualms. And here was sitting this man who meant so much to her, who had earned her love over and over and why couldn't she give it to him? And as she looked at his face, saw the enquiring and somewhat hopeful look in his warm, blue eyes, she realised that he already had it. She didn't know when it had started, but he had had it for a while now. She had told him once that she couldn't trust him enough for it to be love. Now it seemed that after he had got his soul back, not only the trust had come but love right along with it. And she had been too stupid to see it, Willow had been right. Or maybe she hadn't wanted to see it, too afraid of being disappointed again. But did it really matter now, why? Spike was still waiting for an answer. Could she say it, could she really say it. And then the words came over her lips and she noticed that it was easy. Because it felt right.

"Because I love you."

Spike looked so taken aback, it was almost funny. Almost. "You what?"

Had she really treated him so badly that it was so unbelievable? Her chest tightened with the thought. "I love you."

It seemed he was at a loss of words, because he didn't respond. He just stared at her. It seemed he required some proof that he wasn't dreaming. She leaned over, but hesitated when her lips almost touched his. It had been so long that they had been this close, was she really ready for this step? Her fears threatened to resurface, but she gave in to the longing she felt, and when her lips met his everything else was forgotten. After a stunned moment she felt him responding, gently and hesitantly. Never before had she kissed him like this, with this feeling inside of her that made her all warm and fuzzy. That was the moment she knew that this time would be different, that they were different and nothing would be like it had been in the past. She felt his hand wander to her back, softly pressing her closer and she shuddered under his touch. She slowly pulled away and looked at him. What she saw overwhelmed her; Spike was glowing, a contentment on his face that she had never seen before.

"I would have never thought this possible," he whispered, the low rumble of his voice giving her goose bumps.

"It is," she said. She put a hand to his cheek, slowly stroking it with her thumb. "It is." Then she pulled him into another kiss. The last thought before all else vanished from her mind was of her friend. She would have to thank Willow in the morning.

A.N.: Please tell me how you liked it, reviews are always appreciated.