What The Heart Wants – Chapter 1
Disclaimer: I own nothing, all the characters belong to Joss Whedon.
Angel descended the stairs, lost in thought, and when he looked up found himself standing in front of Buffy. Startled he took a step back. "Buffy? What are you doing here?"
She shrugged. "Heard you got into trouble. Thought I might check on you. See, I don't send guys after you to do that for me." She looked at him meaningfully.
He knew that look, it meant he was in trouble. "Buffy, I'm sorry about that, I just wanted to know that you were doing all right."
"Angel, I'm not sixteen anymore, I can handle myself pretty well. You could have just called and asked."
But she went on. "You can't just pretend that we are parts of each other's lives anymore when clearly we aren't. Haven't been for years. I know that you've been in Rome because you heard of me and the Immortal." She glared at him.
"You do? What exactly did you hear?" Did she know Spike had been there?
"That you were there and tried to interfere with my business." Well, apparently not.
"Hey, I just wanted to save you from him," Angel protested. "You have no idea what that guy…"
"I'm so tired of this jealous crap, Angel." Buffy sighed. "We're not together anymore." She stopped and looked at him. "Look, I told you that one day maybe, we…"
"I know, I know, you're still cookie dough," he answered, slightly annoyed. It wasn't as if he had done anything.
"Yes and no." What the hell was that supposed to mean? "But until then I'm going to live my life they way I want to. Without interference from you in my personal life." Angel looked at her standing there before him, arms crossed and a determined gleam glistening in her eyes and just couldn't argue with her.
"Good. You wanna show me my room then?" She smiled up at him and started laughing when she saw his expression. "Yeah, I plan on staying a few nights."
He led her upstairs when Angel heard Buffy's voice again behind him. "And not that it's any of your business, but I'm not together with the Immortal anymore."
He turned around and couldn't quite hide the hope in his voice. "You're not?"
"Great!" She stared at him. "Uh, I mean, why not?"
"Because he wasn't the right one for me." She looked at him and said no more.
Sometime later they stood in his new office and Buffy looked around. "So this is your new workplace then? Or rather, your new old one, I think. Tell me again why your other one was destroyed?"
She turned to him, eyebrows raised challengingly, and he sighed. "Buffy, I told you it was necessary, I had to hit the senior partners where it hurt them most. One stinging arrow in the heart. To show them that they can't control us."
"You shouldn't have worked there in the first place," she pointed out.
"God, you sound like Sp…" he stopped himself.
She frowned. "Like who?"
"Nothing. I just…I had to do it."
"Well, at least you're starting up Angel Investigations again. Or, well…some sort of that thingy. What's your new name now?"
"My god, that's a stupid name." She chuckled and a crooked smile tucked at her lips as he grumbled: "Wasn't my idea."
"So, who's your new partner then?"
In that moment she heard a voice behind her. "Hello, Buffy." She whirled around and who she saw left her frozen in place. Her heart was thumping so hard in her chest she thought it would burst. "Spike?" It had to be a hallucination, but the way he smiled at her, with that earnest look in his eyes, she knew he was real.
"Yes, it's me, love," he whispered.
"How…?" She slowly approached him and touched his cheek; stroked his skin with her thumb to feel if he was real. She let out a breath she didn't know she had held and looked up into his eyes. How long had it been since she had looked into those eyes?
"It's a long story." She barely heard him when a thought struck her. She drew her hand away. "How long have you been back?" she asked, her brows drawing together in suspicion. His hesitant answer confirmed her conjecture.
"Three weeks after the Hellmouth was closed."
She took a step back. "You've been alive for about six months and never thought about telling me?" He didn't answer. "Right then." She turned around to Angel who had silently observed the whole reunion. "I'm going back to my room." And with one last glance at Spike she left.
"Wow, that went well," commented Angel, both of them looking at the door through which she had stormed off.
"Yeah," Spike said. "Much as I expected." And with that he went after Buffy.
"Buffy?" He opened the door carefully. She was standing at the window, her back to him.
"Why didn't you tell me?" she said without turning around.
"I…" He didn't know what to say, what could he say? He took a deep breath. "I think I was afraid." There, he had said it. Out loud it sounded more real than he had ever wanted to admit to himself.
"Afraid?" She swung around. "Of what?" She had tears in her eyes and a total lack of understanding on her face. Could she really not imagine? "Of what could you have possibly been afraid?"
His voice sounded quiet in his own ears. "Of you not wanting me."
She stared at him. After a moment she asked: "Why the hell would you think that?"
He shrugged and avoided her eyes. "It's not that I did not expect you to be happy to see me, I had even bought a boat ticket; it's just that," he looked at her and found her still staring at him, "I thought maybe you wouldn't want me there, in your day to day life, taking a time out from being the slayer. What use would you have for good old Spike?"
"What use…?" It was as though she came out of a stupor. "That's the biggest crap I've ever heard, Spike!"
"Is it?" he asked, not sure of anything anymore.
"You're a part of my life; were, at least, before you decided you didn't want to be anymore."
"You know I always did."
"Then why? You were a part of my life for so long, even back when I didn't want you to be."
"But that's the problem, isn't it? You never chose for me to be in your life. I just never left you alone."
"Yes, I did. Why do you think I didn't leave you in the school basement after you got your soul back?" She ran a hand through her hair which hung loose around her shoulders. He couldn't help but notice how golden it glistened. "God, sometimes you can be so daft, I wonder how I ever…" She stopped herself. "Spike, you were there for me when everyone else wasn't. Even when you didn't have a soul you were the only one I could confide in after I…came back. I never appreciated it back then, but that doesn't make it less true. You were the one who gave me strength that night in the house and I haven't forgotten it."
"Gratitude, that's what a guy wants to get from a woman," he answered, his sarcasm in full swing again.
"It wasn't gratitude, you dope! And you're being shirty again," she countered.
"I'm not!" he replied outraged, then looked at her for a long moment before sinking into the chair next to him. "Buffy, what's the point of this?"
"The point?" She was quiet and leaned back against the window frame. When she finally spoke, her expression was serious. "The point is that I don't know how it would have been, day to day life with you, not having to fight one danger after the other, but that's not what matters. What matters is that you didn't even try; you didn't take up the chance. After all we've been through together…I thought it was what you always wanted? Did you think that last night was meaningless to me? I don't know what would have happened, what would have become of…us, but I would have been there."
He stared at her, not knowing what to say. He was sure if he had a heartbeat, it would beat quite fast right now. Buffy turned around again and looked over the city lying in front of her. "I can't believe you left me with my grief while being able to end it with one little phone call." It sounded as if she talked to herself rather than to him. If he was honest, he had never thought about it like that; had never considered his death affecting her much.
She faced him again and the expression on her face startled him. He had never seen her looking at him like that, aside from in the last moment before he had died.
"I realized too late that I loved you, I know that. And when I finally did, you were gone." She paused, while he tried to process the meaning of her words. "And I moved on, tried to stop thinking about what could have been, and I did. And now, now you're back and I don't know what to do."
He was stunned. He watched her walking over to the door before he could get the words out. "You really love me?"
"Yes, I do." And with that she was out of his sight.
A.N.: Since we never knew if they slept together or not in that last night before the battle, I just assume now that they did. Hence the reference to 'that last night'. Check my other fanfiction 'Last of all nights' if you want to see how I think they spent their last night with each other.
Please let me know what you think, reviews are always appreciated.