A/N 1: First, this is NOT a canon friendly piece. Not that it's bad or anything. I just don't imagine this ever happened in canon...I'm contemplating doing a few more of these—things I would have liked to have seen in season 7...So yeah—this may end up being the season seven rendition of "Impact," and therefore, the true "ending" remains to be seen.
Thanks to Sotia who's made of ultra W.I.N. for betaing. However, any mistakes/typos are all my own. Typing this out at work was maybe not the best of ideas, being on the clock, but I'm uber impatient. Especially after the semi drought.
A/N 2: Inspired by a recent entry by Caro Mio.
Buffy stopped doing all the awful things, but never made a statement about those wrongs. It causes doubt that she won't return to them, as it's basically a cheat to just stop and do other more positive/right things. If she doesn't need forgiveness, then she doesn't truly consider herself in the wrong, and that's hubris. She only admits fault when she's caught. That's guilt, not repentance.
"In the Mirror"
I've Been A Victim Of
Kind Of Love.
It's Time That I Realize...
"Can't believe I'm saying this," Xander started, as they watched the magic jacket burn. "But it's a good thing Spike was living at my place, all with the sanity having. I mean, there's no way I would have been able to tackle you, Buff. Or take that bazooka from your hands. Or run away from you with it in my arms. Not that I couldn't carry it, for I am Xan Man—strong like bull," he backtracked, stuffing his hands in his jeans pockets, rocking back and forth on his heels. "But doing that while running, well...let's just say that Principal Wood would have been Principal Wood-chips."
Buffy looked away as she recalled that moment, when—under the spell—she'd been so determined to make R.J. happy and impress him.
Spike had tackled her, taking the bazooka as she was stunned momentarily. Though not from the force, but from his being there, period, trying to stop her from…well, anything. But then she was up, tackling him in kind. Except, once he was down, she punched him—twice—before taking back her weapon. The look of shock and fear on his face caused her to be stunned for a second time that evening. But then he snapped out of it, determined to not let her kill the principal. And then everything got convoluted with the spell, and the determination, the running, and then the Dawn savage...
But now, all she could see was that fear on his face.
And it brought up every past ugly that she had yet to face up to. She sighed, gradually tuning her friends out.
Something had to change.
Spike looked at the time, then looked at the fridge. Harris wasn't back yet.
"Sod it," he muttered, getting off of the couch and heading towards the kitchen. He figured Xander wouldn't be back for awhile, more than likely doing the whole Scooby hangout thing post torching of the magical jacket. Spike opened the stainless steel door of the refrigerator, and pulled out a beer, even though he knew Xander counted the bottles.
Thing was, he just couldn't bring himself to care. Sides, he felt entitled to a drink after the evening he'd had. Forced to endure the company of some tosser more pathetic than Xander at his worst, and the forced contact with Buffy... it just didn't leave him in the best of places. So, he decided to make do. With beer.
He grabbed a bottle by the neck, twisted the cap off, and touched it to his lips. It wasn't the goods, but the fact that it was free made it taste a bit better. For a moment, he thought of Giles and his quality brands of liquor, but a knock at the door interrupted his musings. He finished the swig he was taking before putting the bottle down on the counter, cocking his head as he went to the door.
"Yeah?" he called out, even though he knew who it was. Of course he knew.
"It's me, Spike. Can I come in?"
His eyebrows rose at the question. He nodded—which she couldn't see, he realized—then quickly shook his head at himself, opening the door.
"Hey," she greeted quietly.
He held the door open for her, and motioned her inside.
"Hey yourself. What brings you to this neck of the woods? Without Harris, I mean."
"The gang decided on movie night, but there was something on my mind." She paused as she watched him. He was looking down, fiddling with something small in his hands—a bottle cap—almost thoughtfully. His seeming nonchalance unnerved her a bit, and she rambled onward. "Something I had to get off my chest, and stuff. Here. Um, not in the sexy way or anything, or—"
"I'm sorry. I hit you, and I'm sorry," she blurted out before he could interrupt her again. He shrugged, still not looking at her. But he frowned a bit, brow all furrowed. She resisted the urge to step closer to him.
"Not your fault—spell. Spell's happen often in this town."
"I know..." She wrapped her arms around herself, and looked away from him. "I kind of wish I had that excuse for earlier this year...but that was all me."
She looked up at him then, and saw that he was now finally looking at her. His eyes had grown wide by the admission. That, somehow, urged her on. "When things finally slowed down, after Willow and... I finally had a moment to think. And I realized what type of person I'd become. It was hard to even look in the mirror at one point without wanting to cry." She felt ready to do so right then, and had to blink a couple of times to keep it from happening. Instead, she shifted her weight to one side, cocking her hip as she placed her fist underneath her chin, while her other arm remained wrapped around her.
"I had to make some changes in myself, and I realized tonight that the one thing I hadn't done was apologize to you."
Spike's face was a mask of cool indifference, though his eyes told another tale—one of pain and sorrow.
"Did this all come about cause I got my soul?" he asked, heading back to the counter to get his drink, not able to face her then, and silently wishing for something stronger.
"No," she answered, softly. "It's 'cause I finally started to use mine."
His head snapped up at that. Buffy walked closer to him, but stayed on the other side of the counter.
"I'd started living in this black or white world, even though I knew that wasn't how it was supposed to be. I didn't want you to love me. I didn't want to love...I thought I was better than that, while believing at the same time that you deserved better than me. Twisted and confusing, I know."
She folded her hands atop the Formica, giving a self deprecating smile. Spike sighed, stepping closer to his side of the counter—closer to her—head bowed.
"Look, what happened...the last time we saw each other before I left—"
She'd forgiven him a long time ago. Better yet, she'd never really blamed him. "No. Spike...My monstrous actions for all those months created a monster. I hurt you long before you hurt me, and...I'm sorry."
They stared at each other for a moment silently. Spike's hand itched to reach for hers, but he remained still. Little did he know that she longed to do the same. Instead, Buffy nodded, lowering her eyes, and turned away, sure there was nothing left to say. She put her hand on the doorknob and—
"Apology accepted," he said softly, making her pause.
She looked back at him for a moment, exhaling a long awaited sigh.
"Thank you," she murmured, before heading out of the door.
Spike put the bottle back down, abandoning it on the counter.
He didn't need it right then.