Characters/Pairings: Spike/Buffy
Spoilers: AU post-Damage
Disclaimer: Not mine. No money made. Please don't sue me. All grammar mistakes are mine.

Author's Note 1: This is a rewrite of "Handwritten." There are no major content changes, just grammatical.

AN 2: HUGE thanks to my awesome beta reader zennjenn!! Your comments and thoughts were a major help. Thanks for making my story much better. :)

Spike stepped out of the elevator into the central lobby of Wolfram & Hart's L.A. branch. He strode towards Angel's office, various plans of attack forming in his head as how best to annoy him. Distracted by his mischievous planning, he failed, at first, to hear Harmony bellowing at him with her annoying voice. His vamp hearing kicked in just before reaching Angel's office doors; he paused then reversed direction back towards her.

He looked down at the ditzy blonde dressed to the nines in some shade of horrid pink and inquired impatiently, "Yes, Harmony? You bellowed?"

Undeterred by Spike's sarcastic tone, Harmony held out a plain, legal-sized letter envelope to the impatient vampire and said, "This just came for you."

Taking a giant step back and holding his hands up in front of him as if to ward off the mysterious envelope, Spike vehemently responded, "Oh-no! No more mystical, world-unhinging envelopes thank you very much. You can bloody well keep it for yourself!"

Rolling her eyes at her drama-queen of an ex-boyfriend, Harmony continued to wave the envelope at Spike, saying, "Please! Don't be such a 'fraidy-cat, just take the stupid thing."

"Do you not bloody remember what happened just a few weeks ago? Mysterious box? You opened it? Big flash?" he snarked.

"Whatever," Harmony said, "Besides, this one has a post mark."

She held the envelope steady so Spike could have a good look at it and continued, "See – it has a London post mark. It can't be all that evil, can it?"

Spike just rolled his eyes and replied, "If anything that's more reason to not touch it. I still got enemies in the mother country, you know. Can't be too careful with a rep like mine."

Harmony returned his ranting with an eye roll as he continued to babble.

"Hell! Put a bloody 'Return to Sender' on it and let it be the Post Office's problem. Not mine."

"God," moaned Harmony, "You are such a baby. Just take the damn thing and go away. I am very busy doing important work and you're distracting me."

Impervious to the death glare Spike aimed at her, Harmony stood there silently behind her desk, envelope in hand and her own "I'm going to get my way so just take it" look. Like a showdown at the O.K. Corral, Spike and Harmony faced off vampire-to-vampire, neither one budging. Finally, Spike's impatience got the better of him and he yanked the envelope out of Harmony's hand, giving a sigh of frustration and stomped off for somewhere private to open the envelope.

Harmony stood there for a moment behind her desk, a look of triumph on her face as she watched Spike retreat down the hallway, his leather coat sweeping behind him. Pleased with herself at standing up to Spike, she sat back down, a smug smile on her face, and went back to filing her nails and answering the phone.

Huffily storming down the hall, Spike made a few attempts at finding an empty office, while annoying several Wolfram & Hart employees at the same time until he stumbled across one. He stepped inside and locked the door behind him, figuring maybe he could at least limit the damage to himself this time. Or privacy, he thought, in case there're 'naughty' photos or something.

Plopping down in the office chair, elbows resting on top of the desk, Spike held the envelope in his hands, taking a moment to examine it. It was plain white with no distinct markings. Even his name and Wolfram & Hart's address were computer printed. Harm was right that the post office mark read London, England. The stamp was nothing special either and there was no return address. Spike knew smelling it would be a wasted effort because it had been through too many hands by this point.

Visual exam complete, he took a deep, unnecessary breath of preparation and then slid a finger underneath the back flap and opened it up. After the flashing box that made him corporal, he figured he probably couldn't be too cautious. When no flash occurred he began to think it might be safe. Looking inside he found several pages of yellow legal pad paper filled with a familiar handwriting. He began to read.

Dear Spike,

Since you are reading this letter I'm sure by now you've figured out that Andrew blabbed. To be fair, he really did try to keep your secret. It's just he didn't expect me to be visiting Giles when he got back from L.A. and I think that made it harder on him. Every time he walked into a room I was in he started to twitch and his voice would do this high pitched squeel squeal like thing. And so after way too many annoying instances of that happening I figured something was up.

So after a few well placed threats and a bodily shaking or two the little rat 'fessed up. Of course it took some translating and a bit of yelling to figure out at first what he was talking about (Gandolf? Gandalf the White?), but I began to get the jist gist of it. He was really,really sorry. He even started tearing up at one point he was so upset. I finally had to swear I'd tell you he tried really hard to keep his promise. It was the only way I could get him to lose the sad puppy dog look and go away. So, promise kept.

Sorry my handwriting isn't that great. Not like yours. I always thought you had really nice writing. Like Giles. Very precise and clean. Must be a British thing.

I mean I know I could've typed you a letter but that seemed wrong somehow. I didn't really think a "I Missed You/Welcome to the Club" letter should be typed. Or actually, now that I think about it, maybe it should. I mean those "Congratulations, you've been accepted…" letters usually are typed, aren't they? Whatever. I think handwriting's more personal and I wanted this to be personal.

You've caught on to the fact that I'm procrastinating right? (And no, I didn't have to look that word up in the dictionary to spell it, thank you very much!) I mean I've had some time to think about this since Andrew told me the truth and I do want to write to you, talk to you. I just don't know what to say.

I guess the first thing I'd like to know is – how are you? Andrew wasn't really forthcoming with the details on you being back. Was it hard? How long were you gone for? Were you…I mean did you…where were you?

Guess this means we have another thing in common, huh?

Oh God, I haven't told you yet have I? I'm happy you're back, Spike. I'm really, truly happy you're back. Knowing you, you probably doubt that. But it's true.

I missed you. After Sunnydale (which you obliterated, by the way – yes I did have to look up how to spell 'obliterated' in the dictionary. Shut-up!). Anyway, after we got back on the bus and drove off to deal with the wounded, I was so busy taking care of the injured, helping Giles find a place for all of us to stay temporarily, and being a friend to Xander – we lost Anya, did you know that? Andrew said she went down fighting, a hero. I think that helped Xander deal with her death a little, gave it meaning. If a death can have meaning at all.

Well, anyway, I was so busy after our escape there was no time to process or think about what had just happened. I mean it was all so crazy. It didn't really hit me, 'til after we had won and my crazier than craziest plan worked, what it all meant. Sunnydale gone. All the slayers activated. No more Council. It was totally overwhelming.

A few nights after we escaped to Oxnard and were sitting in Giles' room eating take-out and making plans for the future, I just lost it. I was sitting there, listening to everyone's ideas and suggestions when I suddenly realized whose voices I wasn't hearing. And I started to cry. Actually more like sob – I mean Halle-Berry-accepting-her-Oscar sobbing. Sitting there, half-heartedly listening to the debate going on I started to not only think about you and Anya and the newly called slayers who didn't make it out, but Mom, Tara, Jenny, Chloe, and Annabel and I cried. It was like 7 years worth of unshed tears just spewed out of me.

The room went dead silent. I didn't care. I couldn't have stopped myself if I'd wanted to. It was Dawn of course who finally did something. She really is amazing, you know? Well, I'm sure you know since you have that very annoying tendency to "see" people really well. I mean I always knew at some level how incredible she was, but I don't know if I ever took the time to recognize it.

Anyway, so Dawn ended up kicking everyone out of the room, including Giles even though it was his room, and just held me while I cried. At some point I finally ran out of tears and ended up crashing on one of the double beds in Giles' room.

When I woke up the next morning I rolled over in the bed and just laid there, processing. I kept thinking there were a million ways I should be feeling, but all I felt was relief. I don't think I had ever lost it so completely before and in front of so many people. But for once, I didn't care. When I told this to Dawn she said that was probably a good thing. We ended up having this long talk about me bottling things up and always having to be strong and how she and the others were guilty of letting me get away with it too, etc…. I won't bore you with the details, but it was a good sisterly talk.

Um, yeah, so the point of my rather self-centered ramblings is that losing you was harder than I expected. Now I know you're probably getting all huffy and defensive at that statement and saying something like "I knew the bloody bint didn't mean what she said," blah, blah, blah. But just shut-it for a moment Mr. Jump-to-Conclusions Guy!

What I meant by that was this: Things were so crazy at the end but somehow we managed to reach this amazing place between us. I meant what I said – I *was* with you that night. And you helped me so much. I don't think you realized just how much. But I never thought we were done. I just assumed there would be time later on – after the First, after saving the world, after everything. Only there wasn't, was there?

You died. I mean you did this amazing thing, became a true champion. But you still died and whatever assumptions I had about "after" died with you. That's what made your death so much harder than I expected. I hadn't realized how much I assumed we would have an "after." I mean you're the one who always came back, right? I guess I really never thought that this time it might stick. So it was hard dealing with your death even though I had never been more proud of you.

Of course it turns out I was right. You are the one who always comes back. Guess I should've just given you a little more time. I'm sorry. I mean I suppose there's really no way I could have known you'd be back. A part of me feels like I should have considered it, but I didn't. And I'm sorry. I don't know if I need to be, but I am. I want you to know that.

I also want you to know how happy I am you're back. I may not know where we go from here, but I do know that having you back is a very good thing. A really, really good thing.

Do you remember what you said that night? That night in my kitchen just before I went to find out information on the scythe? How when I started to say, "Maybe when" you said, "Let's just go be heroes?" I think you were right. I think right now we still have to be heroes.

You kind of knew that didn't you? It's part of the reason you haven't called or written yet, isn't it? Why you asked Andrew to keep quiet. Our lives are not quite our own yet. We still have a few more obligations to fulfill as champions, I think. I've got the baby slayers to train and lead and I have a feeling there's something important you need to do in L.A. too.

We're not done yet, though. Don't think that. I don't know what the future holds for us Spike, but I do know that it's not time for us to say good-bye. More like – See ya soon.

I'm *always* here for you. Don't ever doubt it! You ever need anything? You know where to find me.

I'll see you soon. Promise.



Spike read the letter three more times before folding it back in the envelope. Carefully sliding the letter into one of the duster's pockets, he shoved away from the desk and walked out of the office. On a mission, he headed towards Fred's office, formulating a plan to cajole his soft-hearted friend out of some paper, an envelope and a certain Council address he knew Angel had secreted away somewhere in his office.