It snowed on the day I decided to go to her. Or, rather, I decided to go to her on that day because it snowed.
It started off as an average day as CEO of Wolfram and Hart. The lobby was aflutter with humans, demons, and vampires all scattering for lunchtime like a dropped hive of bees. Even Harmony was going to prepare her blood in the microwave. I could distantly hear the fading tapping of her heels behind all of the other beating hearts.
Everyone at the law firm was busy breaking, which made it the perfect time to meet with the only non-evil beings in the entire building.
I quickly straightened up in my chair as the door flew open.
First, Fred appeared, her hair nearly standing on end and a purple splotch on her forehead that was covered by a too-small band aid. Before I could even ask, she just shook her head, and said "things didn't quite go as planned."
But unlike most people undergoing a set-back, she beamed. "I'll get there in the end, and if I do, I'll have the developed a most comprehensive splice of the DNA between the demon we found last week and –"
"Fred," I said, as Wesley followed her in. From across the room, I could smell mustiness around him- he probably spent the morning reading centuries old books on who-knew-what. Just as overwhelming was the scent of coffee. I looked up to see dark purple bags sagging under his eyes like he'd been punched. Did I need to have another talk with him about responsibility and the importance of sleep? He covered up a yawn and smiled to Fred.
"Oh right," she said, suddenly bashful.
"I'm interested, Fred," Wes said. "You can tell me later. Are you sure you're all right?"
"Of course! Maybe I'll have something new to report by then anyway. Knox is still working, after all." She turned to smile toward Wes, but he was already staring intently out of the window.
The door opened again, revealing a green-skinned demon, grinning like Drusilla after a ferocious kill.
"You won't believe who I convinced to sign with our humble Evil Inc."
"Madonna?" Fred asked.
"The half-zombified, half-human Beatles?" Wesley asked.
"Barry Manilow?" I threw out there.
"Better!" Lorne yelled, but I didn't get to find out because just then, two men stumbled into the room.
"It takes more than THAT to get me drunkened!" a bleached blond, infuriating, impossible vampire slurred, leaning into Gunn, who was supposed to be my model employee. But Gunn wasn't doing any better. His eyes were unfocussed and he was grinning.
"Aaaaangel," he said, and he started over, but he fell onto the carpet.
"Charles?" Fred asked, rushing to his side. Gunn began cackling, curled up on my plush carpet.
Lorne turned to me. "Want me to whip up some hangover cure?"
I gave him a grateful smile. "Please."
He shook his head slightly. "I guess I'll have to save my news for when everyone's…aware. Don't worry, it'll live up to your expectations," he said, walking backward to the door. "I'll be back in a jiffy."
And with that, he was gone, his footsteps already lost amongst the chaos outside.
I sighed, starring now at Spike who was leaning on a very disgruntled Wesley. Fred was trying to lift up a still-laughing Gunn.
Just a normal day at Wolfram and Hart.
I rose from my chair and pulled Spike off Wesley and threw him into a chair.
"Whataya doin' Forehead Man?""
"Resisting all of my urges to stake you where you stand," I said, turning away from Spike. But he held onto my wrist.
"I'm sittin', mate."
I took a deep, unnecessary breath.
"I can't stop you room waltzing in whenever you please, but could you stop influencing the work on my employees!"
"All right," he said, grinning. "No need to yell."
Wesley and Fred together were able to lift Gunn into the other chair, but as soon as they got him in, he leaned all the way to the left and fell out with a thud.
I knew vampires couldn't get headaches but sometimes it certainly felt like it.
"Why did you drink, Gunn? Don't you have a case in-" I checked my watch "two hours?"
But Gunn was in no state to answer, his eye lids drooping.
"It's me," Spike slurred, tilting forward again. I pushed him back into the chair.
"Why?" Fred asked, staring from Wesley to Spike.
"Does he really need a reason to drink?" Wesley asked, scowling.
"I….I…I first saw Ce-Ce-Cecily today. Many years ago." He closed his eyes and sneered to no one.
"Cecily?" Fred asked, ignoring my motions not to ask.
"My first love," he said without opening his eyes. I rolled my eyes, but Fred seemed interested.
"Who is that?"
"I loved her. She hated me. I wrote her poetry….effervescent. Bullocks." Spike opened his eyes lazily and grinned. "But I killed her and all her evil friends. Spike indeed." He snickered, and Fred backed away slowly. Wesley patted her shoulder and rubbed his eyes.
"You-you should do that. You know, if she rips out her heart. You should rip out hers right back. It's only bloody fair," he said and he tried to stand up, perhaps to make a point. But he fell onto the ground.
If I knew Spike, and unfortunately, I did, I knew he must have had quite a lot of alcohol to get him like that. And Gunn was no lightweight himself.
I wasn't going to be able to get anything done, was I? Not until Lorne came back. Great. I really loved having Spike around.
"Dru, on the other hand, she loved me. And I loved her. It was bloody perfect," Spike continued from the ground. "We were happy together from over a hundred years. I gave her everything. I saved her in Prague, Paris. I took care of her when she was hurt. She would have died without me! And how does she repay me, she rips my unbeating heart! And-and-and-" Spike turned to Wesley this time, starring up at him like a pathetic child.
"And I would have done it for her! If she had asked, I would have done it for her!"
I couldn't ever remember seeing him in a more pitiful situation. It was making us uncomfortable, as I exchanged long glances with Wesley and Fred. I looked over to Gunn to see he had dozed off.
One less problem to deal with. But I didn't have to guess very outlandishly for what Gunn was drinking for.
"I loved Cecily and Dru. And Buffy."
I froze and my undead heart trembled.
"Buffy. I miss Buffy. She cared about me." He stared up at Fred this time. "Can you imagine anyone caring about a monster like me?"
Fred stepped back into Wesley. They exchanged an awkward apology, but I was fed up.
I grabbed Spike again and threw him against the chair.
"Don't move or I'll kill you."
Spike let out a humorless laugh. "You wouldn't. Buffy cares about me." He was looking at me, but he was looking right through me; his eyes focusing in and out. I wanted to pull out every strand of his ridiculously hideous hair.
"Buffy," I said, before turning around. Because he was right. Just her name was enough to stop all logical thoughts. Just her face: young and beautiful, full of wisdom and unfortunate suffering.
The last time I saw her, she sent me away. But the kiss we shared, short and more passionate than I'd experienced since I'd left Sunnydale, is still the thing that drives me through both the easy and difficult days. And the tantalizing possibility of my Shanshu. But it wasn't right for us to be together. I was a monster. She deserved someone better. Not Spike. But someone better than an old, damaged vampire. I shook my head slowly, bringing my brain back to the current moment. Cordelia wasn't here, after all, to stop me from brooding, I thought with a sad smile.
"Buffy didn't love me," Spike said matter-of-factly. "But it meant everything that she said she did."
"I loved her," Spike continued, leaning back against his chair. I noticed that his favorite leather trench coat had a stain that looked suspiciously like beer. I wondered how long it had been there.
"I love her." Spike stood up. "I love Buffy!"
I grabbed the edge of my desk, as though it would hold me back from throttling him. But the reasons why a good throttling would be bad were quickly vanishing.
"Calm down, Angel," Wes said. I glared at Spike.
Spike ignored us and sat down.
"But it-it-it doesn't matter."
Fred, I saw, was paying attention to Spike's words.
"Why? Why doesn't it matter?" she asked, absentmindedly trying to tame her still wild hair.
"Because she'll never love me. I even get my bloody soul. But it doesn't matter because-" he pointed to me "I'm not the big pouf."
I let go of the table.
"What do you mean, Spike?"
"I'm not gonna tell you. You're so thick you wouldn't be able to tell if the universe wanted you together. No." His voice deepened and he shifted into his vampire face. "I'm evil. And I can't ever be with Buffy."
"Shut up, Spike! You don't know what you're talking about." I glared at him.
Spike stood up again and I could feel my anger forcing my real face out. I grabbed his collar.
"Angel!" Fred yelled, but Spike just laughed.
"The hell I don't!"
"The curse is what keeps us-" I began.
"No!" Spike yelled, pushing me back. Wesley and Fred rushed forward but I shook my head. I suddenly felt tired. My vampire face receded, as Spike's did.
"I'm going to take nap," I said and turned around to get into the elevator.
"No, you bloody sod! You are not." He seemed to have lost all of his drunken side effects, and he grabbed on my shoulder, turning me around.
"You just are a moron. The reason Cecily left me was because I wasn't good enough. The reason Drusilla left me because I wasn't good enough. But the reason Buffy and I could never be together-"
Here his speech became almost indistinguishable and after blubbering for a couple moments he took out of a metallic flask from one of the pockets and took a swig.
"Because of you. It wasn't me. It was you. She wanted me to be you."
Spike shook his head, before emptying the flask all over the floor.
"Spike," I said.
Apparently, Spike looked pitiful enough because Fred wrapped him in a hug.
"I'm sorry. You've had a hard life, but you'll find a girl good enough for you one day."
Wesley couldn't hold back a snort, but I surprised myself by growling.
"Oh, give it a bloody rest. Buffy is amazing, all right? But we were never going to work. Besides, she's probably so mad at me 'cause I've been ignoring her." Fred let go of Spike who promptly fell on the ground again. She turned to me now.
"Is he so wrong, Angel?" Why do you make yourself suffer?" Her brown eyes were wide and deceptively innocent.
"It's…complicated. She's not cookies yet and since the moment I met her, the Powers that Be have been trying to keep us apart."
And suddenly, I couldn't handle it. Gunn passed out, Wes and Fred's awkward dance, Spike's pathetic form, and still, the unceasing pain in my silent heart that spread always to my whole body.
I faced the window, but suddenly, I saw something I'd seen only once before in that way. The sun was gone, replaced by dark clouds, and light snowflakes started tumbling from the sky. I turned back to see the others' reactions, but Wes and Fred didn't understand the significance. Didn't they understand that it had been at least thirty or forty degrees too hot for snow just an hour ago?
It was clear Spike understood because he snorted and muttered "of course" to the carpet. "Is that sign enough that I could never be with Buff?"
I didn't care about his love problems, but somehow, Spike was right. The Powers did want us together. But what if this wasn't the Powers' display and it was an evil group knowing the significance?
And what about the curse?
It didn't matter. This was the Powers. I could feel it in my soul, and the Powers were right. I needed Buffy. Just the idea of seeing her again- in such wonderful circumstances too- made me beyond giddy. Just the idea of seeing her, being with her, made me feel perfect inside. She would be so…
I was going to be with Buffy and that thought enough made me…perfectly happy. No doubts; no sadness; no guilt. Just content if the Powers willed it this way.
I had been perfectly happy.
"Spike!" I yelled, turning away from the window for good this time. "You're perfect. You're a genius!" Spike didn't open his eye but groaned.
"Tell her I say 'hi' and that I'd still love to be her friend, okay?"
I ran out of the office, ignoring Wes' and Fred's glances of surprise, but I literally ran into Lorne.
"Where are you off to? You know, the powder stuff we had gotten from the witches last month that makes the best hangover cure somehow disappeared and I needed to track down this really chatty woman- you know how that is- when you really just want to leave a conversation but the other person just won't stop talking-"
"Not now, Lorne! I have to go."
"Slow down there, angelcakes. Where are you off to in this hurry?"
I couldn't contain my grin.
Just saying her name brought this painfully wide grin to my face. I couldn't wait to see her.
Lorne scrunched his eyebrows before breaking out into a grin of his own.
"But I never told you my great news," he said, before looking at the bottle sadly.
"Not now- I have to go to Buffy," I said, stilling smiling.
"Trust me, big fella. You want to know."
I raised an eyebrow, though it probably wasn't as effective as it should have been, considering I was grinning.
"Why does it matter that you signed some big star? Stars rise and fall."
He smiled. "Not this one."
I turned around, and there she stood. Blonde hair curled gently. Her figure petite and held up by unwearable three inch heels. Light smile on kissable lips. Nothing had changed.
"What?" I asked, smiling to Buffy. "Lorne?"
He shrugged. "I never said I signed a singer, angelcakes. Though if my contacts in Sunnydale were right, she could certainly belt out a tune, and-"
I glared at him.
"Okay, I can read the writing. I'll just go give this cure to them then. Toodles, lover birds."
I didn't spare another thought toward Lorne. I turned back to Buffy, who folded her arms nervously. I smiled to her; she smiled back, and we closed the distance between us immediately.
"What are you doing here?" I asked, trying to at least understand, before we were both lost in our hormones like pubescent animals.
She leaned into me, and I could smell her favorite slightly earthy perfume.
"I got a sign," she whispered. "A message if you will. Signed from the heavens above and some magical doohickies. You know. Giles and books." She shrugged. "All I had to do was to read the signs."
"And what signs were those?" I whispered back. We were close enough to kiss now, and I could feel her steady heartbeat pounding upon my own chest. I grabbed her hands.
"Oh, you know, a kind letter informing me of the wishes of the fates." She rolled her eyes. "They certainly like the dramatics. Let's just say they involved a jacket and a necklace and a vision of your grave in Ireland, and leave it be."
"Really?" I asked, trying to resist closing the distance between our lips.
"Yessiree. None of the others believed it either. Except Willow. She's always had a soft spot for you."
"Even if I killed her goldfish?"
She shook her head. "Because you feel sorry about it. And that wasn't you anyway." Her grin was so beautiful and infectious.
"And you're okay with this? Me coming here? Out of nowhere."
"As long as you're happy working for Evil, Inc, I'm happy you're here," I said.
She started to back away, but I held her close.
"Hmm?" she asked, looking up at me.
"I am unbelievably happy you're here Buffy. If you believe it-" I did an awkward shrug thing-" I had a sign this afternoon myself."
"And that and this," I gestured to her. "It makes me- well- perfectly happy."
She leaped out of my arms and pulled out a stake in a single motion.
"Don't move, buddy." But then she turned her head, and scrunched her eyebrows, looking adorably confused.
"You're not Angelus," she said, matter-of-factly. She lowered her stake and hid it back in the folds of her jacket. She fell right back into my arms.
"How could you tell?"
She rolled her eyes. "I know you. And you're not Angelus. So tell me the 411, or Mr. Pointy here's going to get real friendly with your heart."
She gestured to her hidden stake, as I raised my hands in a mock surrender.
"Okay, okay. There's not much to tell though." I smiled wider, which seemed to make her more nervous. Did I really smile that little?
"It snowed this morning, and that's our sign. You remember."
She pressed her head against my chest. "You know I do."
She looked into up into my eyes, and I made myself finish.
"I knew I had to go to you. So I was about to leave, and here we are."
"And that's all that happened?" she asked, leaning in closer. Her lips were full and dark red.
"Well, Spike was there, but he hardly counts."
I held my breath needlessly, hoping she wouldn't want to see him. Not now.
"I see. He has hell to pay, mister," she said, suddenly serious. But then she smiled again.
"But that can wait."
We didn't even hear the crowds return from lunch. Loud and boisterous, ready for more evil work, they were nothing compared to her. We kissed for a moment, but all we needed was one another. Her embrace was better than a thousand sunsets, and just knowing she was holding onto me as tightly as I held onto her was enough.
Technically, on the day it snowed in Los Angeles, I didn't go to her. Rather, Buffy came to me, but more than that, we went to each other.