Here's the Spuffy goodness I promised, and this story is now COMPLETE! Thanks for coming along for the ride and sharing your thoughts. As always, all props to Joss Whedon and his associates, without whom I would need to find a different obsession.
A very happy and prosperous 2013 to all my readers!
A Different Kind of New Year (2004)
Spike staggered down a dimly lit Roman hallway, the blood and gore and smoke of a battle only hours past still coating him.
He'd stood in this same hallway scant weeks ago, another vampire by his side. That vampire wasn't here now. Never would be again. Spike scrubbed at his eyes, still not comprehending how it was that he had made it when the bloody hero of the piece hadn't. Life was short and unpredictable and –
Well, that was why he was here, wasn't it? He'd been beyond stupid to let Buffy go. He loved her. Loved her. No matter what else changed in the world, that never would. And if she still loved him, even a little bit…
The bloody Immortal could kiss his pasty white bum.
Moving on, he scoffed. Christ. As if.
She wasn't moving on with that wanker. No chance in hell. Not if he had any say in it.
Between the soul and the dying and the working with Evil Inc, Spike had been spun right round 'till he didn't know who he was anymore. 'Till he was a coward and a pansy. Who'd royally fucked up the best thing that had ever happened to him.
The first mistake had been letting Buffy run off after Fate had dropped her right in his sodding lap. Well, no, the first had been letting that boat leave without him, and the second had been letting her rabbit away. He'd blundered again when that little pipsqueak, Andrew, had offered to tell the tale of Spike's return to the land of the unliving.
He'd said no.
Girl already knew he was alive, didn't she. Wasn't the problem. The problem was that the woman of his dreams wanted to pretend he was still dead. Their pisser of a reunion was still fresh enough that he'd panicked, telling the Watcher wannabe that he would tell Buffy himself when the time was right. If somebody else told her, she wouldn't be able to pretend anymore. She'd be forced to do something about it, forced to acknowledge his existence in some way, and Spike didn't want her forced into it. He wanted her to make that decision for herself. Come to him when she was ready.
Or so he told himself.
If he'd been a man about it, he would have used the opportunity to fix his earlier fuck-up, not cowered behind his excuses. But he hadn't.
The final misstep? That blasted trip to Rome. He should have stayed there, insisted on waiting until she came home. But Angel had been with him, and Spike had been so turned around, so involved in his grandsire's business, that he hadn't followed his heart. He'd walked away, and told himself he was doing the right thing.
If there was one thing this latest apocalypse had taught him, had reminded him of, it was who he was. He wasn't some nancy boy, no. He was William the Goddamned Bloody, who knew what he wanted and stopped at nothing to get it.
What he wanted was Buffy.
Resolve freshly mustered, Spike sagged against the doorframe to her apartment, worn and weary, tattered duster hanging off his gaunt frame. He stilled his chest and listened carefully, trying to suss out if she was home. Through the thick wooden door, he could hear the sounds of… lips smacking? His hands dug into the trim until it splintered, jaw clenched, eyes flashing gold.
The Immortal was here, was he? Spike licked his fangs and grinned, ever so pleased that he already had an invite.
He'd make an entrance the bloody Immortal would remember for all eternity.
Buffy cuddled her boyfriend, warm and comfortable on the couch, lips dancing with his.
And then not. Said boyfriend was suddenly ripped away and sent flying though the air, landing on the other side of the room with a startled cry. Buffy herself was so stunned, her normal reactions didn't kick in. Instead she lay there, gaping like a fish, staring at...
Spike. Or his back, to be precise. He'd whirled away from her and was watching the man he'd tossed across the room.
Her boyfriend gazed back, calm, cold, and lethal. Spike didn't even wait for the much larger man to finish climbing to his feet. He rushed the Immortal, grabbing him by the shirt and pants and chucking him out the still open door with a yell of, "Piss off, mate, you're not wanted here." Slamming the door shut, the vampire twisted the locks in rapid succession, then turned to face her, his battered face smug.
He took a step backwards. And another. Okay, maybe a grand entrance had been entirely too rash an idea. Should have thought that one through a bit more. Spike held his hands up, trying to placate the livid blonde spitfire in front of him.
Buffy made it clear she wasn't about to be placated, an angry right hook sending him sprawling. She stomped over to him and hoisted him off the ground as easily as if he were a child, but Spike knew her fighting style. The Slayer was going easy on him. Mindful of the injuries he already had. He was right appreciative.
"What." Punch. "Gives." Smack. "You." Jab. "The right." Slap. "To do that, huh?" Another punch. "To come in here and go all caveman on my boyfriend?" she snarled, shaking him like a ragdoll. If he hadn't been so drained to start with, he might have been able to put up a token resistance, but as it was, all Spike could do was hang limply in her grasp.
Still, he had his pride. "Mostly, it's that you would even call the ponce that." He turned his head and expelled a glob of blood, right onto her shoes.
"Really, Slayer," he sniffed, "I knew you had bad taste in men, but the bloody Immortal? Have you lost all sense?" If looks could kill, he'd be floating in the air right about now.
Buffy dropped him and strode away, wrenching the front door open and halting the pounding noise that had been emanating from it. A hissed conversation ensued, one that he couldn't hear clearly, what with all the ringing in his ears. Groaning painfully, Spike hauled himself to his feet just as she slammed the front door shut and relocked it. Buffy pivoted and stalked towards him, her face a mask of fury.
He had to resist the urge to flee.
The Slayer paused right in front of him, nose to nose, her green eyes blazing with anger. "Explain. Now."
He couldn't help himself. He grabbed her.
And kissed her. Hard.
She couldn't help herself. She wanted to stay furious. To beat him to a bloody pulp and then maybe beat him some more. To kick him out and never see him again, because – hello? Who the hell did he think he was?
But no, she melted into Spike like some kind of stupid romance bimbo, all clutching at his shirt and whimpering into his mouth and not thinking about anything but the feel of his strong arms around her. The arms she'd been dreaming of for months now.
Breathing became an issue, but she ignored it until Spike pulled away, freeing her mouth for air once more.
"Happy New Year, Buffy."
She couldn't process his words. "Huh? What are you talking about? It's not New Year's Eve, you idiot." Her brain might be all fuzzy, but she was pretty sure of that.
He smiled at her, blue eyes twinkling. "T'is. A New Year for us. The start of something new." He hesitated, his smug, self-assured smirk slipping away to be replaced by a more questioning look. "If you want, that is."
Buffy licked her lips. Tried to summon her righteous anger. Couldn't.
Spike was here. Here!
But… again with the huh? Hadn't he moved on? Andrew had said he'd come by looking for her, but she hadn't believed it meant anything. After all, he'd left after only a few attempts. Spike hadn't been very persistent about seeing her, and if there was one thing you could say about a lovelorn William the Bloody, it was that he was a persistent son of a bitch.
"I don't understand. What brought this on? I thought… I thought you were over me."
"O-over you?" he spluttered. "Bloody hell, woman, I'll never be over you." He pulled her tighter. "Look, I know I was a right wanker when I saw you last, bollixed everything up good and proper. But… I almost died yesterday. Again. Whole world almost died, actually…" he trailed off, lost in his memories.
An apocalypse she didn't know about? Buffy frowned, then prompted, "Spike?" when he stayed silent.
He gave her a sad smile. "Story for another time, love. Point was, I realized I could have lost you for good. Was a bloody fool to let you go. An' I don't care if you're dating all of Rome, pet, I'll fight for you with everything I have. Show you what you mean to me."
It was too much to take in. She'd spent months believing Spike was dead and gone, followed by months of believing he didn't love her anymore. Now he showed up out of the blue, attacked her boyfriend, and assaulted her lips? Then tried to claim her heart?
Buffy wasn't ready to believe him. It had to be a horrible trick of some kind.
"No no no. No way. You've over me. You didn't come to me when you got your body back. I know how this goes. You chased Dru for decades, and then gave up. No more. You don't stop chasing until-"
"You stupid bint. Is that why you ran out on me? That what you thought?"
He was insulting her now? "Uh, yes."
"Thought you knew me better than that, Buffy."
Hello, anger. There you are. She shoved him away.
Spike clenched his fists. "No, sorry. Don't… I… Fuck. Not your fault, t'was mine. I should have made it clear I care about you and-"
"I care about you too."
He blinked at her, then snorted. "Sod caring. I bloody well love you Buffy Summers." He stared at her with those intense blue eyes, waiting for a response she couldn't force past her lips.
Oh William, you damn fool. You let her get away, and now it's too late. The Immortal isn't a cry for help, you wanker, he's her boyfriend. And you are not.
She was still gawking at him, chest heaving, green eyes clouded with confusion.
"You love me?" Buffy asked uncertainly.
A fool had to try. "From the bottom of my unbeating heart. Even if you don't feel the same way, Buffy, I had to tell you. Now. Before I lost the chance."
"You love me?" she repeated.
Spike felt the muscle in his jaw begin to tick. What the hell did she want, flowers and candies? Banks of flickering candles and violins? Poetry? "Yes, I love you. Shouldn't be so hard to believe. Not like I've changed that much – not in any way that matters."
"You say her name one more time-" he snarled, then got control of himself. "I've told you Buffy, you're it for me. I dunno how to make you believe me. Tried chains. Tried showing you with my body. Had my sodding soul shoved back in me, gave up everything I was, just for you. I've protected those you love, died so you could live. Even made the occasional speech 'bout how much I love you. If you don't get this by now…"
Buffy blinked, her mouth a perfect 'o' of surprise. Spike could sense her heart fluttering away, hear her pulse racing over the renewed banging at the door.
"And… you want to start a new tradition with me," she said with maddening deliberation.
Throwing his hands up, he snapped, "Look, I can see I've wasted my-"
She punched him in the nose. Then kissed him.
Hands clutching at him like a drowning woman, leg wrapped around his, her body pressed so tight it was hard to tell where he ended and she began. "Don't you ever not tell me you're alive again," she gasped when she pulled back for air.
He searched her eyes, found the answer he was looking for in their blazing depths. Buffy smiled shyly at him when she spoke, the pounding at the door almost drowning out her quiet words. "I love you too, you know. And you'd better believe it this time."
"Yeah," he nodded fervently, Adam's apple bobbing as he swallowed hard, his emotions overwhelming him. He did. This time, he did.
"Happy New Year, Spike," she said, her voice soft, eyes softer yet.
"Happy bloody New Year, Buffy," he answered, a goofy grin spreading over his face.
She wore a matching grin. "So tell me, how does this new tradition work?"
"Well, see, we aren't alone together, not anymore. We're just… together."
Her grin widened. "I'm surprisingly okay with that."
Buffy wasn't sure how long it took for the pounding at the door to stop. She was too busy worrying about other things.
Like kissing her vampire senseless.
And enjoying the New Year.