Title: Lost Memories

Author: Goldy

Email: thegoldoneb_a@hotmail.com

Disclaimer: Oh… jeez… I don't even feel like giving Joss & Co. credit, but I don't really want to say that they belong to me either. *Sigh* I think we all know who these shows really belong to.

Spoilers: Major ones for S6/S3, as well as the whole B/A canon. Plus, the whole Riley getting married spoiler… is definitely a spoiler.

Synopsis: Riley's married return has some interesting effect on *cough* B/A. Yeah, Marti would drop dead if she saw this fic…

A/N: My first time trying to deal with the Spike/Buffy arc… so it's quite angsty… but not to ruin it or anything there *is* a happy ending.

Feedback: I actually *cried* writing this, so be gentle, okay?

Like a dark knight from her fantasies, he was there, reaching for her, begging her, pulling her close. Their lips met, sealing their vows—he really did care about her. And, as the camera faded away, cheesy rock music filled the speaker, revealing….

"Oh my God! There is a band playing on the roof!"

Dawn sighed happily. "Isn't it great?"

"No. It is certainly *not* great. It's sickening!" Buffy protested.

"Hey! You were the one that wanted to do an all night movie marathon! Not me."

"Yes, but I didn't know all the movies you were going to pick out were going to be *exactly* the same," Buffy huffed.

Dawn stuck out her tongue. "Not true. 'She's All That' is a lot different from '10 Things I Hate About You.'"

Buffy rolled her eyes. "All the same. Some cute guy meets some cute girl and they fall hopelessly in love."

"It's romantic."

Buffy frowned. "Completely untrue. There isn't such thing as real love. You never end up with the person you're supposed to be with. Instead, you're left with someone that you know isn't right for you… and yet… you go back. Night after night, begging them…."

Dawn yawned. "Um, is this going to get explicit? Because if it is, I suggest we put in 'Save the last Dance'. I promise that *this* one is different."

Before Buffy could answer, the doorbell rang and she gave a little jump. Her mind immediately warned her that it could be him. Coming for her… telling her that he was the only one that cared… and she would go. She would let him do what he wanted to her because anything was better than being forced to live… cold flesh and dead hands… it was better. Even if it was only for a minute. One small minute… the pain would be gone.

"Are you going to get it?" Dawn questioned.

Buffy blinked and stood up, leaving Dawn and their movie night in the room behind. Like she was in a dream, she walked towards the door. Ever so slowly, wondering if he was here, if he was going to destroy her from the inside until nothing was left, Buffy walked towards the door.

The ring came again, impatiently demanding to be answered, or it would give up and leave.

'What if it's him?' Buffy's mind questioned. 'What do I do if it's him?' She paused in front of the door, and her breathing sped up, hitching, vibrating around her and mocking her… telling her how bad she wanted it to be him. And her heart and mind constricted in fear of that knowledge.

Buffy opened the door.

A large broad chest obstructed her view of the outdoors. Buffy's breathing slowed, and she gripped the door frame to keep from collapsing in relief. In disappointment. No. It wasn't him. There would be no mindless sex tonight.

Her eyes traveled up from the chest of the man, and summed up his wide shoulders and face. For a minute she didn't remember ever seeing the person before in her life, but then recognition dawned and the name flowed off her lips.


"Hi, Buffy," Riley said heavily.

Buffy closed her eyes, and tried to bring up some feeling of anger at him for leaving her, or, in the very least, some feeling of the love that she had fooled herself so long in believing she had felt for this man. Instead, she only felt cold indifference. Her time with Riley seemed short and insignificant compared to what she had been through in the past couple of months.

Riley shifted uncomfortably. "Look… I know this is weird. I left a year ago, and I know that you haven't heard anything from me since then… but I heard about what happened and I just wanted to come to make sure you were okay."

Buffy forced herself to smile. "I'm fine."

Then, Buffy noticed the other person that was standing on her front stoop.

Riley noticed the way her eyes widened at seeing the newcomer. "Buffy, there's someone I'd like you to meet," Riley took a deep breath, "this is Irene, my wife."

Buffy didn't say anything. She tried to feel some resemblance of jealousy… or anger. But there was nothing. Just cold indifference. Finally, she remembered her manners and her face broke into a smile. "Congratulations. I hope that the two of you will be very happy."

Irene smiled uncertainly. "I'm very honored to get a chance to meet the slayer… I've heard so much about all your feats."

'Yeah, but did you hear the latest news??? I'm fucking my enemy! You would never believe it, Irene. A soulless, heartless demon managed to weasel his way into *this* slayer's pants. Isn't that just an amazing feat?' Buffy plastered on a fake smile and said, "Thank you. That's very nice of you to say."

Irene gave another shy smile, and Buffy remembered again the proper thing to do when guests show up at your door. "Why don't you come in? Do you guys have somewhere to stay?"

Riley and Irene took the invitation and stepped inside. "Thanks, but we're renting a hotel room," Riley said politely.

Irene nodded. "We're on our honeymoon, but Riley insisted on coming here to see you."

"That's very nice of you." Buffy couldn't help but notice that Irene seemed a little nervous with her presence. She didn't know why, Irene was very pretty. She was tall with dark brown hair that flowed down to her shoulders. She had chestnut eyes and rosy cheeks, her mouth was colored pink, but it was obvious that she didn't need to wear much makeup. Riley kept a firm grip on her hand, and every once in a while the pair would share a glance and a smile.

Looking at them, Buffy felt generally happy that Riley had found that with someone. It was something they never had, that closeness, the feel that you were the other half of someone.

Dawn wandered into the hall, and looked at the group quizzically. "What are you doing here?" she asked Riley.

Riley smiled at her. "Dawn! It's so good to see you again. You've really grown up since I last saw you."

"Well, you last saw me a year ago, so I hope that I've gotten a little older."

Riley shrugged, feeling uncomfortable. "Shouldn't you be in bed?"

"Buffy and I were having a movie fest." Dawn explained.

"Dawn, maybe you should go to bed," Buffy pointed out, "it's after eleven."

Dawn sighed. "Fine I get the hint. See you tomorrow."

Once Dawn had disappeared, Buffy turned her attention back to newfound couple.

"Can I get you some tea? Coffee, maybe?"

"Oh, that's okay," Irene said, "I don't want to trouble you."

"It's fine," Buffy responded, desperate to get away from the overly polite situation. "I feel like coffee myself."

"Well in that case, I wouldn't mind some decaf." Irene turned to Riley, "What about you, honey? Earl Grey tea, right?"

Riley nodded. "You know me so well."

"It's his favourite kind," Irene explained to Buffy. "I swear he drinks it almost five times a day." She gave a little chuckle, as if that was the most adorable thing.

Buffy felt sick. "Right Earl Grey. Check. Why don't the two of you relax and make yourself at home while I go fetch the drinks?" Without waiting for an answer Buffy disappeared into the kitchen. She realized that she never knew what Riley's favourite tea was. In fact, she was pretty sure that she never knew his favourite food, either.

As Buffy opened the tea and coffee cupboard, she stopped cold when she realized that the Earl Grey tea was right next to the mint tea. Her heart pounded in memory of someone that used to drink mint tea. He always explained that he loved the smell, even if he couldn't taste it. Buffy willed the memory away as she busied herself with boiling the water.

But she was alone. With nothing to keep her company but her thoughts. 'And what about Spike? What kind of tea does he like? Does he even drink tea?' Buffy bit her lip in an effort to stop thinking, but it was to no avail. 'You don't even want to know, do you Buffy? The less you know about Spike, the easier it gets to go to him and get your fix and then leave. You hate him, but you need him.'

"I do hate him," Buffy whispered vehemently under her breath. "I've never hated anything so much before."

Buffy jumped when the kettle whistled, signifying the boiling water. With shaky hands she prepared the coffee and tea. She got the cream out of the fridge and set it on the tray with the three mugs. She poured sugar into a bowl and put a teaspoon in it, and her heart rang in her ears as another memory assaulted her brain. He used to tease her about the amount of sugar she put in her mint tea, and then she would snap back, saying that it was his fault she was having the tea in the first place.

Buffy took a deep breath, and pushed the memory as far back as it could go. That time was gone, now. That was another life, and clearly marked in the 'Don't go there,' part of her brain. Hands still shaky, Buffy lifted the tray and slowly made her way to the living room, focusing on carrying the tray, and trying to forget about the thoughts in her head.

She paused outside the living room when she heard Irene say her name. "Riley, I don't understand. Why are we here to see Buffy, anyway? I thought that you said that you were over her."

Buffy paused, knowing that it was wrong to listen in, but curiosity got the better of her, and she waited for Riley's response. "Buffy and I are finished. But we *were* together for almost a year and when I heard what happened I wanted to make sure that she was doing okay. Buffy never leans on anyone… she never talked to me… and I'm worried that she might just crack one of these days."

"She's pretty," Irene grumped.

Riley gave her an incredulous look. "Are you jealous?"

Irene looked down. "I can't help it. You guys are so alike. Fighting demons and all… I just thought that you might be attracted to that."

"Buffy was great…" Riley admitted, "but nothing compared to what I feel for you."

"She's pretty," Irene pointed out again, as if she couldn't let go of the situation.

Riley sighed, and brought her knuckles up to his lips for a light kiss. "I saw you before."

"Before what?"

"Before you were posted as a scientist. It was a sunny afternoon… you walked down the steps of the training school… and I loved you. In that moment… I saw your heart and I knew that I wanted to protect it with my own." Riley finished his sincere speech and looked into Irene's eyes for a reaction.

"Oh, Riley," she murmured, leaning into his arms, "that was beautiful."

Buffy's breath hitched in her throat, and for a painfully slow minute, she thought she forgot how to breathe. When she took her first painful breath, after that moment of intense clarity, she felt her head was spinning, and from somewhere far away there was a crash and a bang that seemed to echo slowly off the walls.

Riley and Irene rushed to her side. Riley grabbed onto one of Buffy's arms and shook her. "Buffy? What's wrong?"

Buffy blinked, slowly coming back to her surrounding. She looked at Riley's hand on her arm and strained her eyes on his face. "You're not… him."

Riley looked into her blank eyes, worriedly. "I'm not who?"

Buffy shook her head. "No one," she mumbled, "it doesn't matter. He's gone." Finally, she realized where she was and shrugging off Riley's hand, she bent down, beginning to pick up the pieces of glass that the mugs had left when the tray had slipped out of her hand.

Riley exchanged a glance with Irene, and without needing to communicate orally, he bent down until he was eye level with the slayer. "I'll get it. Why don't you sit down?"

Buffy stared blankly ahead. "Uh huh." As if she was in a trance, she let Irene lead her to the couch and sit her down.

Buffy sat and shut her eyes. She could feel repressed memories pressing at the back of her head, begging to be let free. She heard murmurs of voices: 'been through an… traumatic experience… doesn't seem like… anyone there to help her.' A warm mug was placed in her hands, and moving like a robot programmed to do its job, she took a sip and recognized it as the coffee she had tried to make before.

She sensed the nuptials enter the room and with great effort, Buffy opened her eyes. "So, how did the two of you meet?"

Riley and Irene exchanged another secret glance. "Actually, it's kind of a funny story," Irene started after a seemingly endless pause.

Riley smiled fondly. "One that I'm certainly never going to forget."

Irene chuckled. "See, I finally got enough credits in order to work on this job in the jungle. I'm a scientist, and there was this particular breed of demons that I was interested in."

Riley took her hand. "It just happened to be the same field that I was on—"

"And it was my first day on the job," Irene said picking up where Riley had left off. Like they knew exactly what the other one would say next. "They'd given me one of those ray gun thingies."

"For protection," Riley added.

"Right. For protection. And there was this figure moving in the woods," Irene paused for a giggle.

"Who just happened to be me," Riley put in.

"And I shot him!!!" Irene gasped out, laughing hard.

"Thank God that the gun was only on stun." Riley grunted, but he looked at Irene with a twinkle in his eyes.

"Let me guess," Buffy cut in, "you ran up to him and the first thing Riley ever said was 'Is there a problem ma'am?'"

Two faces stared at her blankly.

"Never mind," Buffy muttered.

"Actually, he was knocked out from the blast… but when he came to, I thought that he was the most handsome man that I had ever seen," Irene corrected.

'And that's where the similarities end,' Buffy thought, a little hysterically. But it was too late. The box that she had kept a firm lock on for so long was opened and the memories swarmed over her like a cold cleansing bath.

[Is there a problem ma'am? I didn't say I was your friend. You're cold, You can take it, I mean you look cold. I shouldn't be around you because every time I am all I can think about is how badly I want to kiss you. What, Vampires don't get jealous? I don't love Xander. When you kiss me, I want to die. You're the one freaky thing in my freaky world that still makes sense to me. When I look into the future all I see is you. I love you… I try not to but I can't stop. Come on Buffy it's not like I've never been there before. You know what the worst part was? Pretending that I loved you. You're still the only thing he things about. Close your eyes… If I was blind I would see you We know Angel is alive Buffy. You're not friends you'll never be friends you'll be in love until it kills you both. You walked down those steps and I loved you. I love you nothing can change that not even death. You still my girl? Always. In 245 years I've loved exactly one person. Angel's leaving me leaving town. I won't let you die I can't Angel the blood of the slayer is the only cure. How about forever? Does forever work for you? A vampire made me hot ONE and he's gone you're just convenient.]

Buffy kept her eyes shut and let herself relive every painful moment of her time with her one true love. The memories hurt, and they were painful, but they were real… the knowledge that she had once been loved and loved back… was real. It was possible.

Spike wasn't.

With an audible snap, Buffy's eyes flew open. Riley and Irene who had been watching her the whole time let out matching slow breaths. Smiling at them, Buffy got up and made her way over to her ex-boyfriend and his wife. She placed her small hand over where their hands were joined together. "You guys are lucky to have found each other. No matter how bad things get… don't walk away."

Riley seemed a little surprised at her words. "Thanks… that means a lot."

Buffy smiled, and bent forward to give him a peck on the cheek. "No, thank you," she whispered in his ear, "you just did me the biggest favor."

Riley's eyes were questioning when she pulled away and headed for the hall. Putting on her jacket and gathering her purse, she looked at him pleadingly. "Will you stay here for the night? To watch Dawn? There's someone… I need to see."

Riley seemed to notice the desperateness in her words. "Of course."

Buffy nodded her thanks, and without another word, left the house. The drive to L.A seemed to go by in no time, despite the fact that it was almost a two-hour trip. It gave Buffy the chance to go over each memory she had of Angel in agonizing detail, and when she pulled up in front of Hyperion, she wrapped the feelings of being loved around herself as a safety blanket.

Head held high, Buffy walked into the hotel. Whether or not Angel forgave her for what she had done, she knew that whatever she had with Spike, was over.

Inside the hotel she found Cordelia sitting behind a desk looking bored. When she saw Buffy, her face went from utter shock, to confusion, and back to shock again. Buffy held up her hand. "Look… before you say anything, can I just see Angel? I've had a really long night."

Cordelia's features were back to confusion. "Of course."

Once Cordelia was gone, Buffy paced around the lobby, looking at things here and there, thinking about sitting down, but too nervous to actually do anything but stand. Her hands fiddled together and she bit her lips so hard that she felt the coppery taste of blood in her mouth. Being here, in *his* home made the past few months come flooding back to her. She wanted to cry out to the gods and beg forgiveness for the sin she had committed.

When Angel walked into the lobby, she sensed him before she saw him, and she felt her stomach gnaw in the same ever-present guilt. What could she possibly say that would make him want to love her? What could she do to make things alright again?

Angel's voice was calm and soft, like a lullaby to Buffy's ears. "Buffy, is everything okay?"

The concern that was in his words made it all that much worse because she didn't deserve it. She didn't deserve this man after what she had done. Looking him over hungrily, Buffy took him all in and froze the memory in her brain, for fear that she may never get another chance to lay eyes on him again. "I…" Buffy swallowed. "No… things aren't okay. I've been bad. Very bad."

Angel moved forward, "Buffy… what?"

Buffy held out her hand. "NO!" she yelped. "Don't come near me… I don't deserve it."

Angel froze and looked at her helplessly. "What's going on? I don't understand…."

Buffy began to shake. It was too much. She couldn't do it… she didn't deserve his forgiveness. "He told me I came back wrong," she whispered, feeling her soul shatter as the moments came flooding back to her. "And he hit me. He wasn't supposed to be able to…. I was cold… so cold. Empty. And I kissed him… and I let him touch me… take me. He had me, and I writhed and screamed beneath him. And I went back. Again. And again. So cold…." Buffy's breath hitched and she collapsed on the floor. "IT WASN'T REAL!!! she screamed. "I JUST WANTED…" the first of the sobs came and she made a high- keening noise like a dying animal. "I just wanted to feel," she choked out. "All I wanted was to feel."

Angel stood rooted on the spot, not moving, hardly daring to breathe as he took in all that her words meant. Buffy curled up on the floor, knowing that she was unforgivable. "I'm dirty… so dirty. No matter how many times I shower," her lips trembled, and she forgot where she was. "It doesn't matter… he's always here… never clean."

Finally, Angel moved down to her level on the floor. In one swift movement he gathered her up in his arms, and she struggled against him. "Unforgivable," she whimpered, "dirty…."

Angel rubbed her back and made shushing noises. "No. No you're not unforgivable."

Buffy began to relax. Feeding off the love that he poured into her, she clutched at him, apologies streaming from her lips. Finally, when she calmed and merely lay hiccuping in the aftermath of her tears, she looked up into his face. "You're so beautiful…" she mumbled in awe, "you make me feel whole. Loved… worth something."

"Oh, God," Angel fumbled, his voice hoarse. "I'm so sorry… I'm sorry that you had to go through that. I should have never left that day… when you said that you didn't know who you were anymore. I'm so sorry, Buffy."

Buffy shook her head. "You have nothing to be sorry for. Please…. I'm the one who—"

Angel laid a finger on her lips. "Shhh… it doesn't matter," he shook his head. "None of it matters."

Buffy looked at him with big pleading eyes. "I wish I could believe that…. I wish, but how can you ever forgive me knowing what I did?"

Angel traced her cheek with his fingertip. "There was never anything to forgive. Ever. All I can think about was how hopeless you sounded that day when I saw you… after. And I pushed that away, telling myself that you were going to be fine."

"I should have been fine… there's no excuse for what I did. How can you still hold me? How can you still look me like I'm something special?"

"Because I love you, Buffy," Angel exclaimed. "I love you… no matter what happens."

Buffy's mouth curved into a tiny smile. She threw her arms around his neck and hugged him to her. "I love you… so much. I need you, Angel. I can't do this anymore…."

Angel peppered soft kisses in her hair. "I know," he admitted brokenly, "I'm here."

Somewhere far off in the distance a baby's cries could be heard, breaking the tranquillity of the couple' reunion. Angel pulled away and regarded her seriously. "Buffy there's something I need to tell you."

Buffy looked at him with wide, scared eyes. "Yes?"

"There isn't really any easy way to say this," Angel sighed.

Buffy took his hand and pressed her lips to his knuckles. Releasing it she regarded him seriously. "We all make mistakes, Angel. Whatever it is… I'll forgive you before you even tell me."

Angel smiled. "I know."